'A civic duty': Orla Tinsley calls on everyone to get the flu vaccine

Orla Tinsley, who has cystic fibrosis and is an award-winning advocate for organ donation, says it's everyone's civic duty to get the flu vaccine. Not only is it good for your health, but it could save the life of someone like Orla too.


Every time someone with the flu coughs or sneezes, tiny droplets of the virus are rapidly dispersed through the air. It's highly infectious, and while it's very uncomfortable for a relatively healthy person, it can be severely life-threatening for others.

Anyone with a chronic illness (such as asthma, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, heart disease, Down syndrome and more), not to mention the elderly, is at risk. Not only is important for these 'at risk' groups to get the vaccine, but also anyone who may come into contact with them.

If you work with the public, if you use public transport, if you spend time with anyone who's at risk – the vaccine can save a life.

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Orla Tinsley, a journalist and award-winning advocate for organ donation, has called on all people to get the flu vaccine, citing it as their "civic duty".

"Please get your flu shot," she said on Monday morning. "Flu shots are important. They protect you AND the vulnerable people in your community. It is not always possible to tell who is vulnerable or why. Your flu shot could save someone's life, including mine.

"We ARE all in this together. I consider it a civic duty – a way we can help one another by helping ourselves too. It’s vital."

How it works

According to the Health Service Executive (HSE), the vaccine helps your immune system to produce antibodies to fight the influenza virus. If you have been vaccinated and you come into contact with the virus, these antibodies will attack it and stop you from getting sick.

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The flu vaccine starts to work within two weeks of getting the injection.

The flu vaccine is safe

This year's seasonal flu vaccine protects against four strains of flu virus (as recommended by the World Health Organization). As the flu viruses change every year, it's important to get the vaccine annually. "You should get your flu vaccination from early October to be protected for flu season," the HSE recommends.

Flu vaccines have excellent safety records, having been carefully tested and approved. Reactions, if any, are generally mild, with the HSE saying "serious side effects are rare". The most common side effects may include soreness, redness or swelling where the injection was given. Some people may also experience headache, fever or tiredness – but that does not mean that you are getting flu.

"The flu vaccine doesn't contain any live viruses – it cannot give you the flu," says the HSE.

Where to get the flu vaccine

Anyone over the age of 10 should get their vaccine from their local GP, pharmacist or Occupational Health Department. Younger children can get theirs from their GP.

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If you are in one of the at-risk groups, the flu vaccine will be provided to you free-of-charge (though you may need to pay a consultation fee if you do not have a medical card).

With the vaccine available in pharmacies across Ireland (including Lloyds Pharmacy, Boots, Hickeys Pharmacy and AllCare, to name but a few), staying healthy is now easier than ever.

For more information on the flu vaccine, visit hse.ie/fluvaccination or lloydspharmacy.ie/flu-free-winter.

Photo: Orla Tinsley via Twitter


Read more: Premature babies: Why you should get your vaccines

Read more: One person in Ireland dies from asthma every six days

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Read more: ‘In 12 hours she was dead’: Roald Dahl’s letter to anti-vaxxers following his daughter’s death

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