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Time to vaccinate against influenza

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Winter is around the corner and that means so is the influenza season.

People usually develop influenza suddenly. Symptoms include fever, cough, headaches, runny or blocked nose, body aches or tiredness. While some people are able to treat mild influenza at home, others need to visit a doctor. In severe cases, patients may need to be hospitalised. Don’t let influenza get you down.

ER24 is urging people to have the influenza vaccine at a pharmacy or healthcare centre in preparation for the flu season. Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness. Influenza can cause mild to severe illness. It can also make chronic health problems worse or lead to pneumonia, for example, which in turn could lead to death. Doctor Robyn Holgate, from ER24, urged people to get vaccinated. “It is never too late to vaccinate, even though it may take up to two weeks to develop sufficient protection for the winter months.”

Although everyone should ideally get the vaccine, the following higher risk groups should be prioritised:

  • Children between the ages of six months and five years.
  • Adults and children who come into contact with those who are high-risk.
  • People over the age of 65.
  • Adults and children who receive medical care for or who have conditions such as diabetes, chronic pulmonary and cardiac disease and chronic renal diseases.
  • Pregnant women, irrespective of the stage of pregnancy. Women who are still within their two weeks after delivery should also have the vaccination.
  • Healthcare workers due to the nature of their work.

Dr Holgate said healthcare workers must also have the vaccination. “Healthcare workers, by the very nature of their work, may be more exposed to viruses than other members of the public. It is vital they ensure their own health by staying healthy, washing their hands and using appropriate barrier protection. The influenza vaccine is one way of ensuring they stay at work during the winter months,” she said. It is important to note that influenza is different from a cold. Dr Holgate noted the key difference between colds and influenza is the very high temperatures one gets with the associated symptoms of Influenza. People usually develop influenza suddenly.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Cough
  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Body aches
  • Tiredness

Gastric flu

Speaking about gastric flu, Dr Holgate said, “Viruses are very common. People may talk about having gastric flu. This may be a virus doing its seasonal rounds which causes gastro type signs and symptoms, for example, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea. However, it is not one of the influenza viruses,” she said.

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