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05 Jul 2022

HSE urges eligible groups to come forward for free flu vaccine

HSE urges eligible groups to come forward for flu vaccine

As flu season approaches, the HSE is asking people to come forward and get their free flu vaccine if it is recommended for them.

The HSE says the flu vaccine will help protect those most at risk of serious illness from flu.

It added that this year the free flu vaccine is recommended for you if you are in one of these groups:

·       Aged 65 and over

·       A health care worker

·       A child aged 2 – 17

·       At any stage of pregnancy

·       People with certain medical conditions which put them at increased risk from the complications of flu.

 For a full list of recommended groups visit hse.ie/flu

"If you’re 65 or over you are at higher risk of serious illness or complications such as pneumonia if you get the flu," the HSE said in a statement. 

This 2021-2022 flu season the flu vaccine being offered to people aged over 65 is called Fluad Tetra*.

"This is an adjuvanted vaccine. That means it contains an ingredient that stimulates the immune system, making it more effective against flu in people in older people. It is being offered in Ireland for the first time this year, but a similar vaccine has been used for several years in various countries including the UK and USA," the HSE statement added. 

Those aged 65 years and over can contact their GP or local pharmacy to make an appointment.

People aged 65 year and over who live in long-term residential care facilities will be offered this vaccine where they live.

If you’re a healthcare worker, the HSE says flu vaccination is important to protect yourself and to prevent the spread of the flu to colleagues, families and patients.

The majority of healthcare workers are being offered their flu vaccine at work or through some GPs and pharmacies. Healthcare workers aged 65 or over can go to their GP or pharmacist to get the vaccine that is recommended for them.

Dr Aparna Keegan, Specialist in Public Health Medicine and Flu Lead, HSE National Immunisation Office, said: “Flu is a serious illness. Although the severity of the flu season can vary, we know that people aged 65 and over are most likely to impacted and have an increased likelihood of severe illness, being admitted into hospital or dying from flu when compared to the general population. The flu vaccine is the best protection against flu this winter.”

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, said: “As we emerge from the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is vital to remember that there are other viruses that can take an enormous toll upon the most at-risk in our society, as well as those working in our healthcare system.

 “Flu is an unpleasant illness for the majority, but for some it is life-threatening, resulting in serious illness and hospitalisation. Regrettably, up to 500 people in Ireland die from this disease every year.**

 “This is why it is so important that, if you are eligible to get a flu vaccine, you do so as soon as it is offered to you. A flu vaccine will protect those aged over 65 from the very worst effects of flu. For healthcare workers, getting vaccinated means protecting themselves, their patients, and their families.

 “Last year we saw encouraging uptake among healthcare workers and my hope is that this trend will continue this year.”

 The flu vaccine doesn’t protect against Covid-19. It is important to get both the flu vaccine and the Covid-19 vaccine. This is because flu and Covid-19 are caused by different viruses.

Some people are being offered an additional Covid-19 vaccine or booster at this time too. Additional doses are being offered to people with weakened immune system. Booster doses will shortly be offered to those over 65 living in residential care or those over 80 living in the community. Covid-19 vaccines and the flu vaccine can be taken separately or together. It is safe to get a Covid-19 vaccine at the same time as the flu vaccine.

** In Ireland, between 200 and 500 people, mainly older people, die from flu each winter. Every year around the world, flu causes between 3 and 5 million cases of severe disease and up to 646,000 deaths. Visit hse.ie for more information.

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