Why get the flu vaccine?

Why get the flu vaccine?

It is coming up to winter time. Winter is  a time of year where many of us will end up suffering from a cold or the flu. While having a cold is never nice it tends to be less severe than flu and doesn’t impact your life in the same way that influenza (the flu) will. It only takes a quick visit to your pharmacy to get a vaccine that immunises you against the influenza virus for up to 12 months. If you feel that you are at risk of the flu this winter call into your pharmacy today to discuss vaccination.


The symptoms of flu are;

  • High temperature
  • Sore or dry throat
  • Headache
  • Fever/ sweating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Chills/ feeling shivery
  • Aching limbs

If you get the flu, the symptoms are usually the worst for 3-4 days but it can take up to 2 weeks to fully recover from the flu.


Many people have heard of the flu vaccine but, are afraid to get vaccinated in case it causes the flu. However the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu, it is an inactivated vaccine. It can take up to two weeks after the vaccine for your body to build up protection against infections. I am also frequently asked if the vaccine will be painful. However it is very quick and most patients say they never felt anything. Including the consultation with your pharmacist, the vaccination takes about 10 minutes and then we keep patients in the pharmacy for a further 15 minutes so we can ensure you are still feeling well.


A different flu vaccine formulation is developed every year so the most prevalent strains of influenza are included to ensure maximum protection. It is important to get vaccinated every year to ensure you are immunised against this year’s flu strains. Most people over the age of 18 can get a flu vaccine in the pharmacy. However if you have a known allergy to eggs or chicken or have ever had an anaphylactic reaction to a vaccine you need to go to your GP for extra monitoring.

It is crucial that certain groups of patients are given the flu vaccine because while usually harmless, getting the flu can be life threatening for them. These groups include;

  • Persons aged 65 and over
    • Those with a long-term medical condition such as diabetes, heart or lung disease
    • People whose immune system is impaired due to disease or treatment
    • Persons with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 40
    • Pregnant women (can be given at any stage of pregnancy)
    • Residents of nursing homes and other long stay institutions
    • Healthcare workers
    • Carers
    • People with regular close contact with poultry, water fowl or pigs

If you think you are in an at risk group or if you are in close contact with someone in an at risk group, call into the pharmacy to discuss flu vaccination with your pharmacist. If you have a medical card or GP visit card then the vaccination may be free of charge.




Back to school time!

It’s back to school time! While this can be a busy and exciting time of year, it also brings some headaches for parents. This article contains some back to school health information for parents navigating the minefield of headlice and threadworms.


  1. Head lice

Head lice spread by head to head contact. It is a common problem at this time of year with schools restarting after the summer break. There are some practical things that parents can do to prevent the chances of their children catching head lice such as keeping long hair tied back in a plait. You can also buy repellent sprays that can help disrupt the life cycle of any lice that land on the hair. These sprays should be used daily. It is also useful to inspect the hair frequently. This inspection should be done with a fine tooth comb with the hair divided into sections. It is important to pay careful attention to the nape of the neck and behind the ears. It is important to be aware of what head lice actually look like; they are grey to black in colour and about 3mm long. Whereas the eggs are opaque white to yellow in colour and cling to the base of the hair.

If you find lice you should treat them as quickly as possible to avoid further spread. You can buy 2 types of treatment in the pharmacy; one is based on an insecticide called permethrin and the other works of suffocating the lice. It is very important to use the treatments exactly as directed. It is crucial to treat all affected members of the household.


  1. Threadworms

Back to school time can also bring threadworms. They live in the intestine but the female worm comes out at night which causes the itching around the anus associated with worms. Usually children who have threadworms are irritable during the day due to lack of sleep because of night time itching. Sometimes children will lose weight even though their appetite has remained the same. It is also possible to identify threadworms visually as tiny white cotton threads in the stool. Threadworms are easily passed among household members sharing the same towels and bed linen.


It is important to treat everyone in the household at the same time. The medication used to treat threadworms is called Vermox (Mebendazole) and is available over the counter in pharmacies for patients over two years of age. It is available as a liquid or tablet. The dose is the same for adults as it is for children over two years of age; 5mls of the liquid or one tablet. The dose should then be repeated after 2 weeks as it won’t kill the eggs which can take two weeks to hatch. There are also non medicated measures that can help avoid re infestation. These include; observing strict hygiene especially around meal times, using separate towels and linen and wearing tight fitting underwear. It is also important to change all bed linen and to carefully hover the living area on the treatment day in order to eliminate any eggs.


  1. Prevention of colds in children

When children spend 7 hours a day together in the classroom it is common that bugs spread quickly. It can be helpful to boost your child’s immunity before they return to school. There are many multivitamin available in pharmacies, however if a child has a very good diet a vitamin C and Zinc supplement. It is also possible to get probiotics supplements that can help stimulate good gut health. Children should also be taught good hygiene such as hand washing and using hand gels.

Call into your local pharmacy for more advice for this busy time of year.