An additional 200,000 adult flu vaccines for the forthcoming flu season is well short of what is needed, according to TD Denis Naughten.
The Roscommon/Galway Independent TD says the HSE is falling short with its plans to purchase only 200,000 adult flu vaccines despite the pressure this could place on Ireland's health system over the winter months.
The information was disclosed by the Minister for Health to the Dáil recently, and Denis Naughten says it is not enough.
“Last winter the HSE purchased 1.15m Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine and this year it plans to increase its order to just 1.35m doses, along with 600,000 doses of the Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine that will be made available to all children aged from two to 12 years old,” Naughten says.
“This means there is just an additional 200,000 vaccine doses available for the adult population, or half of all adults, well short of what is needed to protect the population not just from the flu virus, but from being confused with the Covid-19 symptoms which could cause absolute chaos within our hospitals this winter.
Naughten says Ireland was lucky Covid-19 struck out of the flu virus season, but it will not be the case if the country has another surge in coronavirus infection this autumn.
“While I welcome the fact that the HSE has ordered 600,000 doses of a nasal drop vaccine, doses which will be made available to all children aged from 2 to 12 years, ordering additional adult doses for just five per cent of the population is far short of what is needed to protect the country from the flu this winter.
“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, this winter.
“However, if people go to the effort of protecting themselves, our older people and our health service by availing of the vaccine, the very last thing we need is to have them put on a waiting list due to a lack of the availability of vaccine."
Naughten says after such "heroic efforts by every citizen in the State to stop the spread of this virus" earlier this year, Ireland cannot allow a second wave of infection to cause chaos in hospitals this winter.