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Influenza and the importance of Vaccination

Influenza is commonly also known as the flu. It is an illness caused by Viruses that infect the respiratory tract, commonly occurring in the winter months. Influenza is of great concern as it is highly contagious.

The virus is spread by inhaling the aerosolised droplets produced when an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes. The average sneeze travels at around 80 miles per hour, and can cover distances of up to 30 feet.

The influenza viruses are divided into three types (A, B and C) A and B are responsible for the epidemics of respiratory illnesses that occur during the winter season. It can also cause complications such as bronchitis and secondary bacterial pneumonia, these illnesses often require hospital treatment and can be life threatening especially in the elderly, asthmatics and those in poor health.

Type C influenza differs from type A and B in that it usually causes a mild respiratory illness it does not cause epidemics and does not have the severe public health impact of influenza types A and B.

Flu is much more serious and debilitating than the common cold. It causes fevers; chills headaches, extreme fatigue and aching muscles there may be other symptoms such as cough, sore throat and a runny nose. Generally patients will recover in one to two weeks after onset.

Having these symptoms does not always mean that you have the flu; other illnesses including the common cold can have similar symptoms. If you are concerned or are at high risk of developing complications from the flu virus then you should seek advice from your Dr.

Many surgeries may start there vaccination programme as early as September, depending on availability. It has been reported that outbreaks can happen has early as October but activity tends to peak in January or later.

Due to viral mutation a new vaccine has to be formulated each year therefore in order to keep yourself protected it is important to ensure you are vaccinated annually. Further information can be obtained from your Dr or Nurse.

You should have a flu vaccination if you  

  • are aged 65 years or older                                                               
  • have a chronic respiratory condition such as asthma or copd
  • have chronic heart disease such as chronic heart failure
  • have chronic liver or kidney disease                                                  
  • have had a stroke or mini stroke
  • have immunosuppression due to disease or treatment
  • are living in a residential or nursing home
  • are a carer for an elderly or disabled person

Vaccination is not given to persons who are allergic to chicken eggs or to children under 6 months old. If you have an acute illness you will be advised to wait until you recover before having your vaccination.

If you missed your flu vaccination prior to your holiday then contact, or visit our Health Centre in Ayia Napa Cyprus.

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