Flu – think ahead this year

Feverish, shivery, aching body, chronic headache, dry cough – no, not at all nice, but these horrible symptoms can be avoided this winter by having a flu vaccination. To help prevent the virus, especially in old people and the seriously ill, the health authorities are alerting the public to the necessity of taking care and having the vaccination this month.

The Ministry of Health and the General Health Directory (DGS) recommend the vaccine for all those aged 65 and over, residents in care homes, the chronically ill, diabetics and, without exception, all those who could possibly transmit the virus to people considered high risk.

Graça Freitas, responsible for the DGS’s Division of Contagious Illnesses, commented that the flu virus has not yet appeared this season and, therefore, it’s not possible to know which virus will affect people this winter, because the virus changes every year. “It is not possible to foresee, but we hope that, this year, the virus will be normal”, she said. Flu, or ‘gripe’ as it is known in Portugal, is a viral illness caused by the Influenza virus, of which there are three types – A, B and C. The virus is very contagious and is spread by coughing, sneezing and speaking. The germ is caught when it enters the mouth, nose or eyes and then installs itself in the respiratory system.

The DGS is keen to get the message across that anti-flu medicines are no substitute for an annual jab and, only together with the vaccine, can the flu be prevented and controlled. Medicines only make a difference while they are being taken and do not offer immunity. The cost of the flu vaccine is being subsidised by the State by 40 per cent and the various vaccines available on the market are priced at around nine euros each.

For further information and advice about vaccinations and the treatment of flu, call the public health line on 808 211 311.