Galwegians, especially the vulnerable, are being urged to get the flu vaccine this year.
Minister for the Diaspora and International Development, Ciaran Cannon, says now is the most effective time to get the vaccine before the flu starts to spread in communities.
"While no one wishes to be alarmist, last winter saw a severe flu season with more than 4,500 people requiring hospital care and in excess of 200 deaths," he says. "Flu season typically lasts from October to April and the annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best protection. The most effective time to get the vaccine is around this time of year before the flu starts to spread in communities.
"At-risk groups include: people over the age of 65, pregnant women, healthcare workers, adults with chronic illnesses that require regular follow-up, such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and cystic fibrosis, and residents of nursing homes and other long-stay facilities Anyone in an at-risk group who has a medical card can get the vaccine free of charge from their pharmacy.
"Last year, pharmacists provided 115,000 flu vaccines to patients across the country which represented 13 per cent of all flu vaccinations."
Minister Cannon added that seasonal flu vaccines were safe and have been given for more than 60 years to millions of people across the world.