Yesterday, December 12 a Sligo/Leitrim flu launch to promote the importance of the flu vaccine was held at HSE Cregg Services, Sligo. The launch was officiated by one of Irelands top country music entertainers, Sandy Kelly and was attended by residents from Cregg Services, athletes from Sligo Special Olympics, HSE Sligo/Leitrim staff and guests.
Launching the campaign Sandy stated ‘I believe strongly in the flu vaccine which gives protection to myself and my loved ones from getting the flu and today I will avail of the opportunity to get my vaccine. I am delighted to offer my support to this worthwhile campaign and I would urge everyone who needs the flu vaccine to get it this year to stay fit and healthy’. Sligo Special Olympian Peggy Mc Donald stated ‘I have participated in badminton and horse riding for the last few years and I always get the flu vaccine to that I can feel healthy to participate in those sports.’
Flu can be a very serious and sometimes deadly disease, with potentially 1,000 flu related deaths in Ireland during a severe flu season. Flu is very infectious and can cause potentially serious illnesses especially for older people, those who have a chronic illness, those with weakened immune systems and pregnant women. Seasonal flu vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy and also protects the baby. The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu as it does not contain any live flu virus and all those at risk should get vaccinated as soon as possible this year to make sure that they are protected.
The following groups of at-risk people should be vaccinated against seasonal influenza:
-Everyone aged 65 years and over
-Anyone over 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
-Residents of nursing homes and other residential care services
The HSE provides the flu vaccine free of charge for all those in the at-risk groups.
The vaccine and consultation are free for those with a Medical Card or GP Visit Card. Those without a Medical Card or GP Visit Card will be charged a consultation fee. Those aged 18 years or older in the at risk groups may attend either their GP or Pharmacist for vaccination and those under 18 years should attend their GP.
Delegates at the launch were entertained by the Markievicz Minstrels, a choir consisting of HSE Sligo staff who sang a song especially for the occasion about the importance of getting the flu vaccine. Sandy enthusiastically joined the choir in one of their rousing renditions giving them a boost with her own vocal prowess. Spot prizes on the day of the launch were sponsored by the following local Sligo businesses: The Little Cottage Cafe, Drumcliffe Tea Rooms, Cafe Fleur, The Vintage Lane Cafe, Cafe Victor, Markievicz Pharmacy and Angelworld.
The flu vaccine is available free to HSE healthcare workers from their local Occupational Health Department and in their workplace from nurse peer vaccinators.
The HSE’s Occupational Health Service provided a clinic at the launch where those attending could avail of the vaccine.