Influenza Vaccination

What is influenza?

Influenza is an acute viral infection which affects the respiratory tract and has systemic symptoms. It is highly infectious. If you are healthy you will usually recover within 7 tough days and some may have it with no obvious symptoms. Some people are more likely to develop complications including the very young and the elderly if they contract the flu. The flu causes death and hospitalisation every year. If you get the vaccine you protect yourself and those around you.

The flu vaccine helps your immune system to produce antibodies (proteins that fight infection) against specific strains of the flu. If you have had the flu vaccine and you come into contact with the flu virus, the vaccine can stop you from getting sick. You need to have the flu vaccine every year as flu strains can change from year to year. It will not stop all flu viruses and the level of protection may vary. So it's not a 100% effective and you may still get flu. But if you do get the flu after you have the vaccine, it's likely to be milder and you will recover more quickly.

This year's seasonal flu vaccine contains protection against 4 strains of flu virus. These are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the strains most likely to be circulating this season.

The four strains for the 2023/2024 flu season are:

  • A/Victoria/4897/2022 (H1N1)pdm09-like strain
  • A/Darwin/9/2021 (H3N2)-like strain
  • B/Austria/1359417/2021-like strain  
  • B/Phuket/3073/2013-like strain (B/Phuket/3073/2013, wild type)

    After receiving the vaccination it takes 10 to 21 days to be protected against the flu. The influenza vaccination is available in an inactivated injection for adults and children aged 6 months to 2 years. It is also available in a live nasal vaccine for children aged 2-12 years.

    Nasal Spray for Children

    The nasal spray vaccine is given as a small spray into each nostril of a child’s nose. The child can breathe normally while getting the vaccine – there is no need to take a deep breath or sniff. The vaccine is not painful and will work even if the child has a runny nose, sneezes or blows their nose after the vaccination.

    Who is eligible for a free vaccine?

    The flu vaccine is free for "at risk groups". The “at risk groups” that are eligible for free vaccinations are decided by the HSE and are subject to change.

    The vaccine is FREE to everyone in the at-risk groups listed below:

    All those aged 65 years and over
    All children aged 2-12 inclusive
    All pregnant women, at any stage of pregnancy
    Chronic respiratory disease including cystic fibrosis, moderate or severe asthma, COPD
    Chronic heart, renal (kidney) or liver disease
    Chronic neurological disease including multiple sclerosis
    Diabetes mellitus
    Haemoglobinopathies such as sickle cell anaemia
    Hereditary and degenerative disorders of the central nervous system etc.
    Cancer patients
    Residents of nursing homes and long stay institutions
    Children with conditions that compromise respiratory function e.g. spinal cord injury, seizure or other neuromuscular disorder
    Morbid obesity i.e. Body Mass Index (BMI) over 40
    Those who are immunosuppressed due to disease or treatment including those with missing or non-functioning spleens
    Healthcare workers & carers
    Household contacts or out of home carers of persons with increased medical risk
    People who have close, regular contact with pigs, poultry or water fowl
    Down Syndrome
    Children on long-term aspirin therapy

    Eligibility criteria are subject to change by the HSE, ask in store for details.

    Private Flu Vaccines: Cost €30. This vaccination service is for those who do not meet the criteria for receiving a HSE vaccine. Book your appointment online now.