At risk groups urged to get jab

FLU is more serious than you think – so get the flu jab now – that is the message from the Public Health Agency (PHA) as the seasonal flu vaccination programme gets underway.

The PHA is urging all those in ‘at risk’ groups, including pregnant women at all stages of pregnancy, to get their flu vaccine early.

For those people in ‘at risk’ groups, flu can cause serious illness and result in a stay in hospital, or even death. Even if you currently feel fit and healthy, you may be at increased risk of flu and should receive the free vaccine. It is also important to note that the flu virus can differ every flu season, which is why you need to get the jab every year.

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GPs will now be inviting patients in ‘at risk’ categories, including people with severe egg allergies, to get the seasonal flu vaccine and protect themselves and their loved ones.

Dr Lorraine Doherty, Assistant Director of Public Health (Health Protection), PHA, explained: “Everyone who receives an invitation to be vaccinated against flu should see it as a positive step in protecting their health and the health of others around them.

“The flu vaccine does not give you the flu. It is there for the sole reason to protect ‘at risk’ groups because if they get flu, they are more likely to have severe illness and/or develop complications such as pneumonia, which can be life-threatening.

“Pregnant women are more likely to have serious illness if they catch flu, which is why they will be invited by their GP at all stages of pregnancy, to protect them and their unborn baby. Health and Social Care staff are also urged to get vaccinated, to protect themselves, their families and those they care for.”

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As it takes approximately 10 days following vaccination to develop protection against flu, clinics will be held from early October onwards, so that most people will have had the opportunity to receive the flu vaccine before the peak of the flu season in December.

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