HSE Again Urging People To Get Flu Jab – Warning 1,000 Could Die

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The HSE today (Monday, 09/10/2017) is again urging people in at-risk groups to get vaccinated against influenza as figures show that vaccine uptake rates in people aged 65 and over increased in Ireland last year.

It issued a warning last week to claim that up to 1,000 victims could die if they are not vaccinated.

A spokeswoman said: “Flu can be a very serious and sometimes deadly disease, with potentially 1,000 flu related deaths in Ireland during a severe flu season.”

Today, the HSE is urging at-risk groups like the over 65s, healthcare workers and pregnant women to get the flu vaccination.

The HSE’s Flu Lead, Dr Kevin Kelleher, who is assistant national director of public health, said: “The flu vaccine is a lifesaver because flu can be a very serious and sometimes deadly disease, with potentially 1,000 flu related deaths in Ireland during a severe flu season.

“Indications so far suggest that national uptake figures show that 54 per cent of people aged 65 and over who hold a medical card or GP visit card received the flu vaccine during the 2016-2017 flu season.

L to R: Mags Moran, Community Infection, Prevention and Control Nurse Manager Donegal, Mark O'Callaghan, Principal Pyschologist Manager, Sligo/Leitirm, Cara O Neill, Head of Health and Wellbeing, CHO 1, Clodagh Keville, Community Infection and Prevention Control Nurse Manager Sligo/Leitirm.

L to R: Mags Moran, Community Infection, Prevention and Control Nurse Manager Donegal, Mark O’Callaghan, Principal Pyschologist Manager, Sligo/Leitirm, Cara O Neill, Head of Health and Wellbeing, CHO 1, Clodagh Keville, Community Infection and Prevention Control Nurse Manager Sligo/Leitirm.

“This uptake rate is on a par with the 2015-2016 flu season.  However it is less than the World Health Organization target of 75 per cent.

“People need to remember that flu causes severe illness and death in Ireland every year. That is why those who are most vulnerable to the complications of flu need to get vaccinated. The flu vaccine is the only defence against flu, yet every year less than half of the at risk groups get vaccinated.”

He added:
“The vaccine reduces infection and associated illnesses and hospitalisation.  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 symptoms of flu usually develop over a matter of a few hours and include a high temperature, sore muscles, dry cough, headache and sore throat. Flu is different from the common cold, which tends to come on more gradually and usually includes a runny nose and a normal temperature.

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“Flu is spread by coughing and sneezing so people should cover their nose and mouth with a tissue, disposing of the tissue as soon as possible and washing their hands with soap and water as soon as possible to help prevent the spread of flu”.

“Anyone who gets flu should stay at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and use over-the-counter flu remedies to ease symptoms. People in high-risk categories should contact their GP if they develop flu symptoms.”

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 HSE provides the flu and pneumococcal 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.

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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.

The HSE’s dedicated immunisation website provides details on the annual flu vaccination and the pneumococcal vaccine, along with answers to any questions people may have about flu.  Information leaflets are available to download. Information leaflets are also available in GP surgeries, pharmacists and HSE Local Health Offices.

Further information is available on www.immunisation.ie.
(Source – Donegal Now – 09/10/2017)

 

 

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