‘Unconscionable’ for healthcare worker not to get flu vaccine, says Reid

HSE chief ‘can’t understand why any healthcare worker wouldn’t get vaccine’

HSE chief executive Paul Reid said we are facing a ‘winter like none of us have experienced before’. Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall

HSE chief executive Paul Reid said we are facing a ‘winter like none of us have experienced before’. Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall

 

It would be “unconscionable” for a healthcare worker not to get the flu vaccine this winter, given the threat posed by Covid-19, HSE chief executive Paul Reid has said.

The HSE’s winter plan has a target of 75 per cent of staff getting the flu vaccine, from the current level of about 60 per cent, but Mr Reid pointed out that uptake was higher in many locations.

At Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, for example, 90 per cent of staff received the flu vaccine last year.

“Of all the years, I can’t understand why any healthcare worker would not get the vaccine this year, especially if they are working in a setting with vulnerable people,” HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry told a Covid-19 briefing on Thursday.

We are facing “a winter like none of us have experienced before” due to the pandemic, Mr Reid said.

The current rise in virus cases is having an impact on the health service, with three wards in Beaumont closed as staff self-isolate and the Covid ward in the Mater hospital full.

He said 1.1 million Covid-19 tests have been completed, including 90,000 last week. The end-to-end turnaround time for testing and contact tracing is 2.2 days.

Over 168,000 tests have been carried out in nursing homes so far - with a positivity rate of 0.25 per cent, and 19,000 tests in food and meat processing plants, where 0.3 per cent of tests were positive.

Another 2,500 tests have been carried out in direct provision centres, with a positivity rate of 0.28 per cent.

Mr Reid said 1.3 million people have downloaded the Covid tracker app, which has helped identify about 2,000 close contacts.

The average number of close contacts per case remains at six. The response rate from contacts has improved, to 91 per cent for the test taken at day zero and 70 per cent at day seven.