- Why are certain vaccinations offered every winter?
- What vaccinations are available?
- Who should be vaccinated in the autumn months?
- Where can I get my winter shots?
Why are certain vaccinations offered every winter?
The onset of winter brings not only cold and miserable weather, but also the outbreak of winter illnesses. Certain diseases are more likely to spread during the cold months, when peoples immune levels drop and they become prone to infection. The cost to the Irish health system of treating people with these ailments is enormous, not to mention the cost to the economy with people off work, and the cost to the people themselves, in terms of pain and discomfort.
What vaccinations are available?
Each year, a new vaccine to protect against influenza is made available from September. People do not often think of the flu as a fatal disease, but it can be, and anyone who has experienced a bout of the illness will know that it is not pleasant. As the viruses that cause influenza mutate and change, the vaccine must change to keep pace. Therefore, a vaccination against flu is only valid for the year you receive it. The flu vaccine will not prevent you getting coughs and colds during winter.
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs, and can occur as a result of many different causes, including some other diseases. One of the most common ways to contract pneumonia during winter months is a nasty organism called Streptococcus Pneumoniae. As the name suggests, it is related to the bug that causes Strep throats. The good news is that there is a vaccine available that can prevent pneumonia developing from this sort of pneumococcal infection.
Who should be vaccinated in the autumn months?
Certain groups of people suffer greatly when they contract influenza, and they are encouraged to get a flu jab in September or October of each year to avoid infection. The flu shot is recommended for:
- People over the age of 65
- People with asthma, or any chronic respiratory illness
- People with cystic fibrosis
- People with heart disease
- Children and teenagers on aspirin therapy because of the risk of Reyes Syndrome
- People with compromised or suppressed immune systems
- People living in nursing homes and old peoples homes, or anywhere that influenza infection would spread rapidly.
Vaccination against a pneumococcal infection is recommended for:
- People over the age of 65
- People who have had their spleen removed or with any spleen related illness
- People with a chronic illness of the heart, kidney, lung, or liver, including nephrotic syndrome and cirrhosis.
- Adults with Diabetes mellitus
- Anyone with Sickle Cell disease
- People with compromised or suppressed immune systems, including anyone with HIV or AIDS at any stage.
Where can I get my winter shots?
If you feel you ought to receive a winter vaccination, do consult your GP who can advise you. It is likely that your GP will be able to give you any vaccinations you require.
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