Some 13,000 people vaccinated against swine flu in Galway

More than 13,000 people have been vaccinated against swine flu in Galway, according to the HSE West.

The schools vaccination programme begins this week. Smaller schools have been invited to attend the mass vaccination clinics and from Monday vaccination teams will visit larger and medium sized schools.

Public concern about the virus continues with more than 100,000 calls being made to the HSE’s automated flu information line between May 1 and December 23.

“Calls have been steady since the outbreak of swine flu began with increased activity during July and August coinciding with the increase in cases both here and in the UK, and the anticipated return to school in September.

“The highest number of recorded calls was during the week of November 2 with over 12,000 calls received as the vaccination campaign began. Currently the Flu Information Line receives approximately 7,000 calls per week. In addition to this automated service, the HSE’s national information line provided a complementary manned response to specific queries on swine flu assisting over 20,000 callers from April to December 2009.”

Swine flu was the fastest rising search term on Google in Ireland in 2009 and the HSE website acted as the key source of online information on the pandemic in Ireland.

The HSE website contains a new feature - added in 2009 - the map centre. This allows visitors to quickly enter their home address and locate their nearest health services on a map as well as get contact details and directions to and from the service. This was a well used resource in giving easy access to vaccine clinic locations.

”Getting the right information to the right people at the right time has been a very challenging but essential element of ensuring the success of the vaccination campaign to date,” says HSE director of communications Paul Connors.

“We will continue to strengthen existing channels of communications and search for new avenues to reach the remainder of the population throughout 2010. The challenge for all countries has been to supply useful, informative and instructive information without unduly worrying their citizens. I think we have achieved this goal for the first part of our vaccination programme in 2009.”

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