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Published on 18 October 2017 02:30 PM

Flu Vaccine

This year's seasonal flu vaccination programme is under way and the Public Health Agency (PHA) is urging people to 'Stay Well This Winter' by ensuring that those eligible get the free flu vaccine at the earliest opportunity.

All individuals over 65 and carers of any age are eligible to receive the flu jab at their doctor’s surgery, as well as preschool and primary school children, pregnant women and younger adults with medical conditions.

The vaccine is offered to all older people 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. Carers are also offered the vaccine because if they get the flu there is greater potential for the virus to spread to the vulnerable people they care for.

The signs from Australia’s winter, which is drawing to an end, showed higher levels of flu activity than in previous years, with older people more commonly affected and hospitalized. Global spread means that potentially we could see the same and so it is more important than ever to get vaccinated. To protect yourself against flu you need to get the flu vaccine every year as the vaccine changes each year to cover the strains which are likely to circulate during the flu season. You should have the vaccine at the earliest opportunity as it takes approximately two weeks following vaccination to develop maximum protection against flu and it is best to be protected before flu starts circulating.

Flu vaccination clinics have started in GP surgeries across Northern Ireland. Some GPs may not invite all of their registered patients who are eligible for vaccination directly so if you or someone in your care does not receive an invitation, you should contact your GP to find out more about their flu vaccination clinics.

The flu vaccination programme is part of the wider ‘Stay Well this Winter’ programme operated by the Public Health Agency and the Health and Social Care Board which enables people to take simple steps during the colder months to look after their health.

For further information on the flu vaccine visit www.pha.site/fluleaflets

For further information on how to help yourself stay well this winter visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/stay-well

For more information: Call Age NI Advice: 0808 808 7575