It began this week the vaccination campaign against the flu virus, and with all the people coming to the pharmacy, there are some questions regarding the vaccination, therefore let’s try and give some answers in a ‘most frequently asked questions’ mode:

What is the flu?

It is an acute viral disease that predominantly affects the respiratory tract.

How is the flu transmitted?

It is a very contagious disease and is transmitted through mucus or saliva particles of an infected person, i.e., mainly through coughing and sneezing, but also by direct contact with contaminated surfaces, for example through the hands. Imagine yourself: sneezing in the hand: virus in hand. To shake hands with someone: we also passed the virus on to another person’s hand. Then, just the contact with a new mouth, nose or the like, and we have a new person infected.

Who should get the flu vaccine?People who are most at risk of complications from influenza should be vaccinated:People who are 65 and older, pregnant, chronically ill and immunocompromised (individuals whose immune system is weakened), health care providers and other caregivers, because of the increased likelihood of contracting the virus due to direct contact with users. Who should not be vaccinated against the flu?People with severe allergy to egg or who have had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the flu vaccine. Can the vaccine cause the flu?No. The flu vaccine does not contain active viruses, so it can not cause the disease. However, vaccinated persons may contract other viral respiratory infections that occur during the influenza season and for which there is no vaccine (e.g., a common cold may occur just the same). How should the vaccine be stored?When you buy your vaccine at the pharmacy, the vaccine should be taken as soon as possible. If it is to be taken home for further administration, the vaccine should be stored in the refrigerator between + 2 ° C and + 8 ° C (on the shelves in the middle of the refrigerator, not the door).
Is the flu vaccine really effective? Yes. Vaccination greatly reduces the risk of contracting the infection, and if infected, the vaccinated person will have a lower risk of complications. Does the vaccine give you long-term protection?No. The virus is constantly changing, new types of viruses are emerging for which people do not have immunity and the previous vaccine does not provide adequate protection. So the vaccine is different each year.

When should vaccination be done?As in Portugal the peak of the influenza activity occurs between December and February, vaccination should be done preferably until the end of the year, but may occur throughout the autumn and winter. How do you avoid the flu?Influenza can be prevented by annual vaccination, avoiding contact with people with the disease and monitoring our behavior, for instance, by frequent handwashing. How can I avoid transmitting the flu?• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If it is not possible, use moist wipes;• Use single-use tissues (dispose in toilets or in regular trash);• When sneezing or coughing protect your mouth with a tissue or your forearm; do not use your hands.  Where to buy and where is the vaccine given?Administration is free of charge at NHS units, but in addition to the vaccines being dispensed in pharmacies, with a prescription, with a 37% contribution, the vaccine can also be administered at your pharmacist because you have trained professionals to administer this vaccine and who comply with all the security protocols.

Does my prescription have an expiration date?

Medical prescriptions issued as of 1 July 2018 in which the influenza vaccine is exclusively prescribed shall be valid until 31 December.

And remember, if there is any question to clarify consult your doctor and pharmacist.

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