This Halloween the Public Health Agency (PHA) says that while ghosts and ghouls may be scary, flu is much more haunting, so to avoid getting tricked by the illness, ‘at risk’ groups are being offered vaccination to help protect against it.
For those people in at risk groups - including over 65s, pregnant women, children and adults with some serious medical conditions, as well as youngsters attending special schools - flu can cause serious illness and result in a stay in hospital, or even death, so 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 remember that the flu virus can differ every flu season, which is why people in at risk groups need to get the vaccination every year, so even if you received the vaccine in spring this year, you still need to get the vaccination for the 2012/13 flu season.
GPs will now be inviting patients in all ‘at risk’ categories to get the seasonal flu vaccine and protect themselves and their loved ones.
Dr Richard Smithson, Consultant in Health Protection, PHA, explains the importance of the flu vaccine for ‘at risk’ groups: “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 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.”
It takes approximately 10 days following vaccination to develop protection against flu, so don’t get tricked by the flu this Halloween, speak to your GP today about getting the flu vaccine.