The Flu Vaccine

Influenza(Seasonal Flu)

Flu is a highly infectious illness. A person carrying the virus can spread the illness by coughing or sneezing. A person can spread the virus from 1-2 days before they develop symptoms and for up to a week after symptoms develop. Influenza is characterised by sudden onset of symptoms, including a temperature of 38%C or more with a dry cough, headache, sore muscles and sore throat. The cough is often severe and continuous, but otherwise the disease doesn't last for very long and for most people recovery is usually within 2-7 days. The most frequent complication from influenza is pneumonia, most commonly secondary bacterial pneumonia. If influenza or influenza-like illness has been diagnosed, often the best treatment is to stay indoors, keep warm and drink plenty of liquids. Simple painkillers such as paracetamol may help relieve headache or muscle pains.

Influenza vaccination

Older people and people with chronic medical conditions are at greatest risk of getting the flu. Chronic medical conditions include chronic heart conditions, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes mellitus and those who have a low immune system. Influenza has more severe consequences in the elderly and people defined as being high risk. These groups of people are targeted for influenza vaccination. Vaccination is a safe and effective way to prevent infection by flu and it is prepared every year using strains of the virus similar to those that are likely to be around in the next winter season. The vaccine protects you for about one year and should be taken annually in September/October to protect you for the coming winter season. The flu vaccine can reduce infection caused by the illness and protect against associated illnesses. This can help you to avoid hospitalisation and in some cases it can even prevent death, as most deaths from flu occur in people aged over 65 years.

How to get vaccinated

The influenza vaccination is available from your family doctor.


Free to all medical card holders over 65 years of age. Free to all medical card holders, regardless of age who suffer from chronic illness e.g. Diabetes, Asthma, Chronic heart disease,Kidney disease, chronic neurological disease,AIDS. Free vaccine, but administration fee, to medical card holders under 65 years of age and who do not suffer from any chronic illness as above. Free vaccine, but administration fee, to those over 65 years of age who don't have a medical card. All others must pay for the vaccine and administration.

For more information about vaccination or availability of the vaccine it is best to contact your doctor.

Frequently asked questions

  1. Does flu vaccination give a high degree of protection? Yes
  2. Can the flu injection give a person the flu? No
  3. Can the flu cause serious illness, hospitalisation and death? Yes
  4. Will the flu injection protect a person from the common cold? No
  5. Should a person at risk be vaccinated every year? Yes
  6. Is Influenza highly infectious and does it spread rapidly? Yes
  7. Should carers of those at-risk enquire about vaccination for themselves? Yes
  8. If I am at-risk, should I talk to my doctor about getting vaccinated? Yes.

For more information on immunisation click on the National Immunisation Website