Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has joined the HSE in urging people in at-risk groups to get vaccinated against influenza, warning that flu causes severe illness and death in Ireland every year.
Minister Varadkar said: “The flu vaccine is a lifesaver because flu can be a very serious and sometimes deadly disease, with potentially 1,000 flu-related deaths in Ireland during a severe flu season. That is why those who are most vulnerable to the complications of flu need to get vaccinated.
“I would also ask all staff working in health care to encourage their colleagues to get the flu vaccination as I am very aware of the effect the flu can have on vulnerable people, especially the elderly and people with chronic diseases.” The HSE provides the flu vaccine free of charge for those in at-risk groups.
The following groups of at-risk people should be vaccinated against seasonal influenza: everyone aged 65 years and over; anyone more than six months of age with a long-term illness requiring regular medical follow-up such as chronic lung disease, chronic heart disease, diabetes, or those with lower immunity due to disease or treatment; pregnant women; residents of nursing homes and other long-stay facilities; and healthcare workers.
It is important for all those in the at-risk groups to be vaccinated again this year as the virus strains in the vaccine have changed since last year. People in high-risk categories should contact their GP if they develop flu symptoms. This year’s seasonal flu vaccine protects against the three common flu virus strains expected to be circulating this year based on advice from the World Health Organization.
The HSE’s dedicated immunisation website, www.immunisation.ie, provides details on the annual flu vaccination and the pneumococcal vaccine, along with answers to any questions people may have about flu. Information leaflets are available to download. Information leaflets are also available in GP surgeries, pharmacists, and HSE Local Health Offices.