Seasonal Flu Vaccine

HSE Launches 2010 Annual Seasonal flu Vaccination Campaign At risk groups and pregnant women urged to get flu vaccination which also protects from swine flu

The Health Service Executive (HSE) today (Wednesday 6th October) reminded everyone at risk of influenza this winter to ‘Get the Vaccine, not the Flu!

The flu virus changes each year and this is why a new flu vaccine has to be given every year. Based on advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO), this year the seasonal flu vaccine contains three common flu virus strains, including the Pandemic H1N1 (swine flu) strain which is still circulating this year and is expected to be the most common strain this winter. Unlike last year, the swine flu virus strain is included in the seasonal flu vaccine meaning that only one flu vaccination is required this year.

In Ireland, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee has recommended that the following groups of at-risk people need to be vaccinated for seasonal influenza – everyone aged 65 and older, children and adults with long-term illnesses such as asthma, heart problems etc., including those who attend schools or day centres for people with disabilities, as well as health care staff and carers.

In addition, healthy pregnant women and women up to six weeks after giving birth who have not previously received the swine flu vaccine are urged to get the seasonal flu vaccination this year as they are at a higher risk of complications from swine flu. Pregnant women who have a long-term medical condition such as diabetes, heart or lung disease need to get the seasonal flu vaccine, even if they have already had the swine flu vaccine.

This year’s seasonal flu vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy and will also protect the baby. The vaccine is also safe for breastfeeding mothers and their babies. In the US flu vaccine has been routinely recommended for all pregnant women for many years. Of particular interest to pregnant women is that the annual flu vaccine does not contain the adjuvant (aluminium) or thiomersal, (a mercury based preservative), which were part of one of the swine flu vaccines during last year’s pandemic.

There are no safety concerns of administering the seasonal flu vaccine to those who have previously received the swine flu vaccine. Seasonal flu vaccines have been given for more than 60 years to millions of people across the world. Reactions are generally mild and serious side effects are very rare.

Vaccines are the best line of defence we have against a flu virus as flu vaccine reduces infection and associated illnesses and hospitalisation.
The HSE’s dedicated immunisation website – – provides details on the annual flu vaccination, along with answers to any questions people may have about flu and leaflets are available for downloading.
These leaflets are also available in GP surgeries and HSE local health offices.

According to Dr. Brenda Corcoran from the HSE’s National Immunisation Office, “We predict that the swine flu virus will be the dominant strain of flu virus this winter but there may also be other flu viruses around.
Each year there is a new seasonal vaccine to protect against the circulating strains of flu virus. This year the flu vaccine will protect against swine flu and two other common flu strains. Flu is very infectious and can cause potentially serious illnesses especially for older people those who have a chronic illness and pregnant women. All those at risk should get the flu vaccine this year to make sure that they are protected” she said.

She added, “The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu as it does not contain any live flu virus. We want to ensure that people in the at-risk groups, and pregnant women, get the annual flu vaccine this year so that our most vulnerable groups are kept safe this winter from the three most common strains of flu which this year includes swine flu.”

The seasonal flu vaccine is free for the key risk groups:
§ Everyone aged 65 and older
§ Children and adults from 6 months of age to 64 years with chronic illnesses – e.g. long term heart, lung or kidney disease, diabetes or any condition which results in a weakened immune system.
§ Pregnant women and women up to six weeks after giving birth § All health care workers and carers who have direct patient contact

People with either a Medical Card or GP Visit Card will not be charged to visit the doctor for the flu vaccine. General practitioners charge a consultation fee to administer the vaccine to patients without a Medical Card or GP Visit Card, however the vaccine is supplied free of charge.

In addition to flu vaccination, everyone in the risk groups should also receive *pneumococcal vaccine which is available free of charge from General Practitioners. Pneumococcal vaccine is not required every year – most people only need to get it once, so those at risk should check with their General Practitioner.

More information regarding the annual flu vaccination campaign and the pneumococcal vaccine for the general public is available at or by calling the HSE Infoline on 1850 24 1850.

For further information or interview contact:
Ann Martin
Press Officer
HSE Dublin North East

Tel:046 9280524 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 046 9280524
end_of_the_skype_highlighting / 087 0610848 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting
087 0610848 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Email: and

Note: There are two different pneumococcal vaccines One for those aged 65 and older and those in the at risk groups as above – this is called pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV 23) Another pneumococcal vaccine is included the routine childhood vaccine schedule – this is called pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV)

Signs of Symptoms of Influenza
Symptoms of the flu include fever, chills, headache, aches and pains, and sometimes a sore throat and dry cough. The flu is also characterised by a very sudden onset of symptoms.

Flu versus a cold or ‘flu-like’ symptoms:

High (102-104° F); lasts 3-4 days
General Aches, Pains
Usual; often severe
Fatigue, Weakness
Can last up to 2-3 weeks
Quite mild
Extreme Exhaustion
Early and prominent
Stuffy Nose
Sore Throat