What is the Flu vaccine for?
Influenza, also known as "flu", is a very contagious disease. It is caused by the influenza virus that can spread from infected people to the nose or throat of others. Influenza can lead to pneumonia and can be dangerous for people with heart or breathing conditions. Influenza can kill and particularly affects the elderly. People 65 or older are considered high risk for complications. The flu shot, or influenza vaccine, is a mixture of dead flu viruses that prepares the immune system to fight the actual virus if it enters the body. Getting the shot does not guarantee that you won't get the flu, but it does mean that you have a much smaller chance of getting sick from it.
Who is eligible for free Flu vaccines?
Patients eligible are those “AT RISK” which includes all those in the following groups:
|Highly Recommended||Clinical Risk Groups |
(based on clinical assessment)
|Aged 65years and older||Chronic Heart Disease|
|Aged 6months or over in clinical risk group (see next column)||Chronic Liver Disease|
|Those living in long-stay residential care homes or other long-stay care facilities||Chronic Neurological Disease|
|Carers (those receiving carer’s allowance or main carer for an elderly or disabled person)||Chronic Renal Disease|
| ||Chronic Respiratory Disease incl. asthma (requires continuous/ repeated use of steroids; or previously requiring hospital admission)|
When should I get my Flu vaccine?
The best time to be immunised is in October or November. This is because the influenza season usually peaks anywhere from November through May and it can take about 2 weeks for immunity to develop after the vaccination. Because the influenza viruses are constantly changing, each year an updated vaccination is available. It is recommended that an annual vaccination is received.
Does the flu shot have side effects?
In most people the flu shot causes no reaction. The viruses in the shot are dead, so you cannot get the flu from it. In some people, the flu shot may cause mild side effects, including soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given, fever, and aches. These mild symptoms usually begin soon after the shot is given and last one to two days. Like any medication, the flu shot can cause a serious allergic reaction, but the risk of this is very small. If you have any unusual problems a few minutes to a few hours after getting the shot, such as high fever, difficulty breathing, hives, weakness, or dizziness, call your doctor right away.
What is the Pneumococcal vaccination for?
Pneumococcal disease is an infection caused by the bacterium streptococcus pneumoniae which usually lives harmlessly in the back of many peoples’ throats. However, it can invade other parts of the body and cause serious, possibly life-threatening illnesses, notably pneumonia, septicaemia or ‘blood poisoning' meningitis.
Pneumonia — a bacterial infection in the lungs — is a common complication from the flu. In addition to an annual flu shot, it's a good idea to get a once-in-a-lifetime pneumococcal vaccine.
The Pneumococcal vaccination can help prevent disease. It is better to prevent the infection occurring in the first place, rather than having to treat it with antibiotics. Pneumococcal disease can strike at any time of year; so the sooner you get vaccinated the better!
Why get the pneumococcal vaccine?
The shot protects against almost all of the bacteria that cause pneumonia. It's safe. Most people only need one shot to protect them for the rest of their lives.
Who should get the pneumococcal vaccine?
People age 65 or older; People with a chronic illness such as advanced breast cancer, heart or lung disease, or diabetes; People with a weak immune system due to illness and/or the effects of chemotherapy; Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
Pneumococcal vaccinations for adults
The good news is that for most adult patients, the pneumococcal vaccine is given only once. However, some people, especially those with immunological defects and spleen problems, may need a second dose.
Pneumococcal vaccinations for children
It effectively prevents illnesses in children over 2 years old and adults at risk. Pneumococcal pneumonia accounts for 10-25% of all pneumonias. This immunization is not effective against pneumococcal diseases in children under 2 years. There is a different vaccine, the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, which is routinely given to younger children.