‘It is still important to get your flu vaccine’ – PHA

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Wednesday, February 11th, 2015
The Public Health Agency (PHA) is highlighting that it is still important to get the flu vaccine, following new research published by Public Health England (PHE) on the effectiveness of this year’s flu vaccine. The research has observed that “this season’s influenza vaccine provides low protection against flu this winter. This is because the main flu virus that is circulating this season, A/H3N2, is not matched to one of the strains in the vaccine. However, the vaccine will still provide protection against other co-circulating seasonal influenza viruses, in particular influenza B, which is often seen later in the season.” Dr Jillian Johnston, Consultant in Health Protection at the PHA, said, “It is important to note that flu levels this year in Northern Ireland have not been as high as in England, have not reached the outbreak threshold and are now starting to stabilise. “However, flu can be a very serious illness for some people, particularly those in ‘at risk groups’. Every year in Northern Ireland some people become seriously ill with it, and unfortunately some even die from it. “We would therefore encourage those people ‘at risk’ who haven’t been vaccinated, that even if you currently feel fit and healthy, to still get it as soon as possible. The flu virus can differ every flu season, which is why you need to get the vaccination every year. “So, even if you received the vaccine in spring last year, you still need to get the vaccination for the 2014/15 flu season,” she added. In addition, the vaccine is now offered to preschool children aged two years and over and primary school children – this helps protect them, and because children spread the virus very easily, this also increases protection for any vulnerable people they may come into contact with. For more information about the flu vaccine for 2014/15, visit www.fluawareni.info or speak to your GP/nurse or member of staff within the school nurse team at your local Health and Social Care Trust.
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