The Flu Vaccine in 2020 - Why it's more important than ever!
It’s nearly that time of the year again when we need to decide whether to have the Seasonal Flu Vaccine. Normally at this time of the year our pharmacists are even busier administrating flu vaccinations to high-risk patients along with dispensing regular prescriptions.
2020 has already been the most unpredictable year, due to Covid-19. The biggest worry most years is that hospitals and health services can struggle to cope with the winter flu season. This year they will have to cope with Covid-19 as well and could even surge if it turns out that cold temperatures, or the circulation of other autumn and winter viruses, boost its spread.
Influenza (Flu), Covid-19 and other seasonal respiratory diseases are virtually indistinguishable on the basis of symptoms, so trying to decipher which virus a patient has will be the first issue.
Every autumn there is a predictable series of outbreaks of respiratory viruses. It starts with rhinovirus, the main cause of the common cold, which breaks out every September as young children return to school after the summer break. As most children are exposed and their immune systems activate the virus subsides. Then another virus breaks out: respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. Every year in October or November, this causes mild colds in people of all ages, but sometimes severe lung infections in the youngest and oldest of us. When RSV subsides, and the annual flu epidemic sets in, driven mainly by transmission among children, but taking its main toll among the elderly. Whilst it is generally accepted that the Influenza virus on its own is mostly self-limiting with a morbidity rate of 1-2%, in most deaths that occur from the flu, it is not the flu itself that causes death but another virus like Pneumonia which it progresses into.
Because flu viruses constantly evolve, a flu vaccine is something you must get every year. Every February virologists try to predict which viruses will circulate the following winter, and once the predicted viruses are agreed, pharmaceutical companies spend the next six months developing the virus vaccine to have it ready for the Flu season. For those who want to avoid the flu they get vaccinated in the autumn just before the virus hits.
When Covid-19 infected Europe earlier this year, it was at a time when the influenza season was finishing. So we are really in unknown territory.
In 2020 we are now aware of social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing and this hopefully may limit the spread of the “predictable viruses”, but how they interact with coronavirus remains to be seen.
It is anticipated that the number of people requiring the flu vaccine will increase substantially this autumn as many Governments around the world are encouraging almost everyone to get immunised this year.
Who should consider getting the Flu Vaccine?
I would suggest in most cases everyone. The Irish Government have already taken the decision to expand Pharmacists role in being able to give the Flu Vaccine to a wider population. Most pharmacists have had 10 years of practise administrating the flu vaccine injection and have become experts in administration in a safe and convenient environment.
This year for the first time, we at Pharmhealth will be able to give the nasal spray to children over 2 years and up. This for most kids is a less invasive than perhaps the small injection most of us would normally get and therefore more acceptable to children.
How does the Flu Vaccine work?
The Flu Vaccine works by administration of an inactivated version of the virus by injection or a tiny weakened amount of the live virus through the nasal passage. This administration stimulates your own bodies immunity to product antibodies for the flu over a period of approximately 10 days. These antibodies then stay in your system to fight off the virus should you encounter it. This makes the symptoms of the virus much less severe than they would have been without having received the flu vaccine.
How will you be able to give a flu vaccine this year without compromising social distancing?
At Pharmhealth, we have always had the patient’s safety and health as our priority. Whilst it is impossible to administer an injection or nasal spray without compromising social distancing, we are designing a novel approach to this in conjunction with our health & safety and engineering experts. We will be revealing this novel approach in the coming weeks, so watch this space.
Why choose Pharmhealth for your Flu Vaccine this coming season?
Because of our location on the main University Campus of DCU (Glasnevin), we have always had a high number of people wishing to receive the vaccine by dropping in. After the first few years, we realised we needed to change course as more people wished to have the vaccine administered. We developed an online contactless booking process tailored to our own customers need. This process has been tweaked over the years by us as we have seen all the eventualities play out. Although booking systems are now starting to emerge amongst other healthcare professionals, we believe we are still a few years ahead! Thus, your experience with us, we would hope would be straight forward, hassle free and most importantly painless!
How do I book an appointment for the Flu Vaccine?
We are finalising our booking system for this coming year, and in the next few weeks our Flu Vaccination Appointment Booking System will be available on our website. You will be able to book a dedicated time suited to you and/or your family.
Should a business or corporation require their employees to be vaccinated we will have a dedicated section on the booking system. We can then liaise with you to agree a suitable timetable for your colleagues to have their vaccination administered within the pharmacy.
Will there be a cost to having the Flu vaccine administered?
The Government has agreed to subsidise pharmacies who work in conjunction with the HSE for the administration of the vaccine in some cases. This subsidy varies greatly and is quite complex in its nature. For simplicity, it will range from being Free of Charge to a maximum charge of €27.50 per individual. We will outline a table in due course for the payment amounts per category and those who would be included in this category for a clearer price indication.
How long does the vaccine take?
Once all the paperwork has been filled out online, the vaccine itself will only take a few minutes. We do ask however that you do wait 15 minutes after the administration of the vaccine for our aftercare service.
Over the next few weeks when more people will be in circulation with children returning to school and more people returning to work, it is worth asking the question – Should I get the Flu Vaccine this year? Not only will this help stop you from getting the flu but more importantly it will keep those more vulnerable to us safe in our own communities and offer them a better quality of life in the long run.
P.S Feel free to comment or contact us using the chat app on the bottom of our site or landline telephone on 01-7006080 for further details, information or queries. Were here to help!