Avail of Flu Vaccine Early in the Season Advise Pharmacists

  • Vaccine now available in pharmacies nationwide as bad flu season predicted
  • Updated flu vaccine is required every year

6 October 2019: The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has urged people to avail of the flu vaccine early in this year’s flu season. According to the IPU early vaccination will provide the best individual protection and can contribute to a nationwide reduction in flu levels.

Speaking at the launch of the IPU’s annual campaign to encourage people to get an annual flu vaccine IPU Vice President Eoghan Hanly said, “Influenza (the flu) is a highly-infectious illness that can result in a very serious infection; tragically last year 74 people in Ireland died as the result of flu. In the Northern Hemisphere the flu season typically lasts from October to April”.

“The 2019/20 Seasonal Flu Vaccine is now available in pharmacies nationwide. This has been proven as the best protection against flu. It has also been shown that the most effective time to get the flu vaccine is before flu begins spreading in your community. Therefore early vaccination is highly recommended, particularly for those in at-risk groups.”

Mr Hanly also warned that flu vaccination is required annually: “Each flu is different and therefore, unlike many vaccines which can provide lifelong protection, a flu vaccine is required annually. If you received a vaccine last year there is no guarantee that you are protected from the strains of the virus that will hit Ireland during this year’s flu season.”

He added that, “Pharmacists have been safely delivering flu vaccines since 2011, in other countries they routinely offer a wider vaccination service and this is something that should be introduced in Ireland. We have been calling for the introduction of vaccines for meningococcal disease, tetanus and hepatitis A and B, as well as travel vaccines.”


Editor’s Note

What’s the difference between a cold and the flu?

A cold is much less severe than the flu. Flu symptoms come on suddenly with fevers and muscle aches, while a cold usually starts gradually with symptoms of a sore throat and a blocked or runny nose.

The following provides information on how to tell the difference between a cold and the flu.

Symptoms Seasonal flu Cold
Fever High fever lasts 3-4 days Rare
Headache Prominent Rare
General Aches, Pains Usual; often severe Slight
Fatigue, Weakness Can last up to 2-3 weeks Quite mild
Extreme Exhaustion Early and prominent Never
Stuffy Nose Sometimes Common
Sneezing Sometimes Usual
Sore Throat Sometimes Common
Chest Discomfort, Cough Common; can become severe Mild to moderate; hacking cough


At-risk patients include:

  • Persons aged 65 years and older;
  • Persons 10-64 with a chronic illness requiring regular follow up, e.g. chronic respiratory disease (including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, moderate or severe asthma and bronchopulmonary dysplasia), chronic heart disease (including acute coronary syndrome), chronic renal disease, diabetes mellitus, haemoglobinopathies, chronic liver disease, chronic neurological disease (including multiple sclerosis, hereditary and degenerative disorders of the central nervous system);
  • Those who are immunosuppressed due to disease or treatment including those with missing or non-functioning spleens;
  • All cancer patients;
  • Patients with any condition that can compromise respiratory function, e.g. spinal cord injury, seizure disorder or other neuromuscular disorder;
  • Persons with Down syndrome;
  • Those with morbid obesity, i.e. body mass index over 40;
  • all pregnant women (vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy);
  • Healthcare workers;
  • Household contacts of at-risk persons;
  • Out-of-home care givers to at-risk persons
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-stay institutions;
  • carers; and
  • People with regular contact with pigs, poultry or water fowl.