Sandy Kelly promotes Leitrim Flu Vaccine campaign.
Minister for Health Simon Harris TD yesterday appealed to doctors, nurses and all healthcare workers to get the flu vaccine. The Minister joined HSE staff to launch the 2017-18 seasonal influenza vaccination campaign, focussing on increasing uptake by health care workers.
Minister Harris said “Significant progress was made during the last influenza season, with average flu vaccine uptake among health care workers rising from 22.6% to 31.9% and fourteen hospitals exceeding the 40% national uptake target, compared to seven in 2015-2016. However these figures are still far too low and we need to do much better. We need to significantly increase flu vaccine uptake among health care workers.
“I would appeal to all those who work in our health services and who are in regular contact with vulnerable patients to get the vaccine. You will not just protect yourself, you will also protect the vulnerable people in your care. I would also ask patients to ask those you are looking after you if they have had the vaccine, you have that right. And I would appeal to all representative bodies of those working in the health service to come out in support of this very important public health campaign.”
This year’s seasonal flu vaccine protects against the three common flu virus strains expected to be circulating this year based on advice from the World Health Organization.
It is important for all those in the at risk groups to be vaccinated again this year as the virus strains in the vaccine have changed since last year.
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
- Pregnant women
- Residents of nursing homes and other long stay facilities
- Healthcare workers
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 at-risk groups may attend either their GP or pharmacist for vaccination and those under 18 years should attend their GP.
Seasonal flu vaccines are safe and have been given for more than 60 years to millions of people across the world. Reactions are generally mild and serious side effects are very rare.
Influenza will be one of the themes for the cross-Government ‘Be Winter Ready’ campaign which will be launched on 8 November 2017.