With a significant increase in reported cases of flu, pharmacists are advising that it is not too late to get the flu vaccination and are especially urging those in at-risk categories to get vaccinated.
Latest reports confirm that flu rates have increased considerably over the last few weeks, from 20.5 per 100,000 of the population to 32.4 per 100,000 of the population. There have also been worrying reports of an increase in flu-related deaths over the last number of weeks and confirmed case of the H1N1 flu virus.
In response, President of the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) Rory O’Donnell said, “Flu is an extremely contagious respiratory illness and can be quite serious, occasionally even fatal, particularly for patients with serious health conditions. Flu symptoms can include a fever, runny nose and sore throat, severe headaches, dry coughs and chest pains.
“The flu vaccination is the best way to reduce the chances of catching flu and spreading it to others. We strongly encourage people, especially at-risk patients, which include elderly people, pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses, to visit their local pharmacy to get the flu vaccine. It is not too late. The service is available free of charge from pharmacists to those in at-risk categories who hold a medical card.”
IPU research confirms that 23% of patients vaccinated in pharmacy last season had not been vaccinated before and that 95% of these patients were in an at-risk category.
It is estimated that there are around one million at-risk people in Ireland, yet only half a million are typically vaccinated.