Deputy Denis Naughten has called on Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and the HSE to ensure evening and weekend flu vaccination clinics are provided to facilitate access for school children and working families.
“Not only must the vaccine be made available to as many people as possible, but it is also imperative that schoolchildren and families can obtain a flu vaccination at a time that is convenient for them, in a socially distant manner,” Dep Naughten said.
“The only way our health service can manage a surge in Covid-19 infection this winter is if we can rule out the possibility that the patient has flu, as the symptoms are so similar. This can only be achieved by a population-wide vaccination programme against the flu virus and the public must be actively encouraged to have the flu jab, and children the flu drops.
“While it is unfortunate that there is a time delay in the delivery of the vaccine, it is imperative that people can obtain the vaccine as soon as it is available,” he added.
“If people go to the effort of protecting themselves, our older people and our health service by availing of the vaccine, the last thing we need is to have them put on a waiting list because they can only avail of it 9 to 5 Monday to Friday.
“We were lucky that when Covid-19 struck in March we were pretty much out of the flu virus season, but that will not be the case if we have another surge in Coronavirus infection this autumn.
“After such heroic efforts by every citizen in the State to stop the spread of the virus earlier this year, we cannot allow a further wave of infection to cause chaos in our hospitals this winter under any circumstances,” Dep Naughten concluded.