Flu vaccine continues to be available in pharmacies nationwide

Flu season is here – but it’s not too late to get the Vaccine

  • Flu vaccine continues to be available in pharmacies nationwide
  • With Christmas around the corner, take action today

16 December 2019: With Christmas just around the corner, and the incidence of flu rising, the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has advised anyone yet to receive the flu vaccine to make an appointment in their local pharmacy and get the vaccine now. This is particularly important for those in high-risk groups. Last week the HSE published figures showing that the ILI (influenza-like illness) rate for the week ending 8 December was 37.5 cases per 100,000 population, which is above the baseline threshold of 18.1 cases per 100,00, used to assess influenza activity.

Community Pharmacist and IPU Executive Committee Member Ann Marie Horan says this means we are officially in flu season: “The best way to protect against the flu is the flu vaccine. While we encourage people to get vaccinated early, it’s definitely not too late. In the Northern Hemisphere, the flu season typically lasts from October to April. Your local pharmacy is the most accessible part of the health service, so book in now to help protect yourself this winter.”

Ms Horan says, “Pharmacies around the country have had a great response from the public to this year’s flu vaccine campaign. Anecdotally, we are hearing that numbers getting vaccinated are up on 2018, and we believe increased awareness of vaccination through advertising campaigns such as the IPU’s radio flu vaccine campaign have definitely helped to raise awareness.

“However, for those who have yet to get the vaccine, particularly those in high-risk groups, we are telling people it’s not too late to get vaccinated. We are also reminding people that if you were vaccinated last year, you will still need to get vaccinated again this year. Each flu season 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.”

Ms Horan concluded, “Pharmacists have been safely delivering flu vaccines since 2011. If you have yet to receive the vaccine make your appointment in your pharmacy today – Christmas is just around the corner and nobody wants to be on a trolley over Christmas.”


For further information:

Siobhán Kane, Press and Communications Manager, IPU – 087 775 1510


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


High-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 waterfowl.