Should you or your child get the flu vaccine?
Anyone who is in an ‘at risk’ group should get the vaccine. Moreover every adult whether at risk or not should get the vaccine to reduce flu circulation and to protect the more vulnerable ‘at risk’ groups who surround them. If you are an adult over 18 years of age you can walk into a pharmacy (or phone to book an appointment at busy times) whether you are at risk or not and get vaccinated. In my Pharmacy – Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6 – we charge just 15 euro whether you are ‘at risk’ or not. If you have a medical card it is free! If you have a child under 18 years of age who is ‘at risk’ the GP will vaccinate them for free if they have a medical card. If your child does not have a medical card your GP will vaccinate them if they are ‘at risk’ for a fee. Generally speaking children who are not ‘at risk’ are not urged to get the vaccine as usually some TLC and symptom treatment will be enough for them to be on the mend within a week or so if they did catch flu. Parents can reduce their child’s chances of catching the flu by getting vaccinated themselves.
So who is ‘at risk’?
Persons aged 65 and over and those aged 6 months and older with a long-term health condition such as
- Chronic heart disease (this includes anyone who has a history of having a “heart attack” or unstable angina)
- Chronic liver disease
- Chronic renal failure
- Chronic respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, moderate or severe asthma or bronchopulmonary dysplasia
- Chronic neurological disease including multiple sclerosis, hereditary and degenerative disorders of the central nervous system
- Diabetes mellitus
- Down syndrome
- Morbid obesity i.e. body mass index (BMI) over 40
- Immunosuppression due to disease or treatment, including asplenia or splenic dysfunction
Children aged 6 months and older
- with any condition (e.g. cognitive dysfunction, spinal cord injury, seizure disorder, or other neuromuscular disorder) that can compromise respiratory function especially those attending special schools/day centres with moderate to severe neurodevelopmental disorders such as cerebral palsy and intellectual disability
- on long-term aspirin therapy (because of the risk of Reyes syndrome)
Pregnant women (vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy)
Residents of nursing homes and other long stay institutions
Carers (the main carers of those in the at risk groups)
People with regular contact with pigs, poultry or water fowl
NB – many young children suffer from respiratory problems but are too young to have been diagnosed with asthma. If your child uses an inhaler or has had ongoing problems with their respiratory health please discuss it with your GP who will decide if your child is ‘at risk’ or not.
Vaccination remains the most effective means of preventing infection by seasonal influenza viruses and can reduce severe disease that can lead to hospitalisation and death. The vaccine takes 10-21 days to take effect once received. It is worth getting vaccinated if you are in an ‘at risk’ group ASAP. If you are an adult and at risk or not just pop into your local pharmacy where they will discuss vaccination with you. I believe the people in Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6 are lovely….eh hem 😉
When to seek help if you’ve already caught the flu
If you are in an at risk group with flu symptoms OR if you are not in an at risk group but your flu symptoms are severe or getting worse you should contact your GP. GPs may wish to prescribe antivirals for those presenting with influenza in the at risk groups. If you need to visit your GP or the Emergency Department, please phone first to explain that you might have flu.
If your child has flu and their symptoms are severe or last for more than one week contact your GP. Please phone first to explain that they might have flu.
Normal symptoms of the flu are listed below – click ‘learn more’ to read my articles which can explain what is normal for these symptoms and what is not so that you know when it is appropriate to visit the doctor. Treating symptoms is the best way to improve comfort in a child suffering from the flu – find out more using these links.
- Congestion – https://www.wonderbaba.ie/blog/nasal-congestion/
- Sore throat – https://www.wonderbaba.ie/blog/sore-throats-in-babies-and-children/
- Cough – https://www.wonderbaba.ie/blog/coughs-what-causes-them-and-how-to-treat-them/
- Fever – https://www.wonderbaba.ie/blog/temperatures-what-they-are-and-how-to-treat-them/
- Muscle and body aches
Many of the antiviral medicines are currently unavailable so it is worth phoning your pharmacy whilst you are still at the doctors to see if stock is available if you have been given an antiviral prescription. This way you can discuss alternatives with your doctor.
How do we reduce the flu from spreading?
Reducing the flu from spreading not only reduces the risk of illness for your own child – it also reduces the risk of those who are really unwell or receiving immunosuppressive treatment such as chemotherapy from catching it. I know my conscience would not be clear if I did not do everything I could to teach my children about how to reduce the risk of transmitting infection. The potential impact of another child contracting it whose little body is not able to fight it off would be devastating. We all have a role to play in flu prevention and risk reduction even if it is just to teach our kids how to sneeze or cough into a tissue or their elbows.
Preventing spread to others
Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough and sneeze (catch it), disposing of the tissue as soon as possible (bin it) and cleaning your hands as soon as you can (kill it) are important measures in helping prevent the spread of germs and reducing the risk of transmission.
Its really important to teach kids to carry a tissue or failing that to cough or sneeze into their elbow. Its all about stopping the viruses from spreading through the air where they travel and infect others.
I hope you have found this article helpful and if you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to contact me by sending a private message to the WonderBaba facebook page or my website contact page or by calling me (Sheena) at Milltown totalhealth Pharmacy in Dublin 6 on 012600262.