HSE urges people to get vaccinated against flu

Up to 1,000 people could die in a particularly severe flu season, according to immunisation office

The Health Service Executive is urging people in at-risk groups to get vaccinated against the flu. Photograph: PA

The Health Service Executive is urging people in at-risk groups to get vaccinated against the flu. Photograph: PA

Mon, Oct 7, 2013, 14:45

The Health Service Executive is urging people in at-risk groups to get vaccinated against the flu.

Those in the at-risk groups are everyone aged 65 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; and residents of nursing homes and other long stay facilities

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 flu jab is available from GPs or pharmacists.

Anyone under 18 should attend their GP. The vaccine and consultation are free for those with a Medical Card or GP Visit Card.

Research by the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre, as part of a wider European study estimates that over the last eight flu seasons between 200 and 500 people in Ireland died each year from flu related illness, and up to 1000 people could die in a particularly severe flu season, according to the head of the HSE’s National Immunisation Office, Dr Brenda Corcoran.

“This study starkly highlights that flu can be a very serious and sometimes deadly illness, especially for people who are older or who have a long-term illness. The flu vaccine is the best defence against flu, yet every year many people in the at risk groups fail to get vaccinated and so put themselves at risk of serious illness or even death,” she said.

More information is available from www.immunisation.ie.