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Concerns that some people under-65 have to pay for the influenza vaccine were raised at a recent National Flu Planning Steering Group.
In August the Medical Independent (MI) reported that the new flu vaccine campaign, due to launch this month, will focus on people under-65 with pre-existing medical conditions.
According to minutes of the July meeting of the National Flu Planning Steering Group, “the issue of those aged under-65 with long-term illness was raised in terms of resourcing vaccination in this age group. Long-term illness card does not cover influenza vaccination”.
The minutes further noted that the Assistant National Director, Health Protection, Dr Kevin Kelleher would “raise this issue” with the Department of Health.
A HSE spokesperson told MI the Health Protection Surveillance Centre has “identified that a barrier to any immunisation is having to pay for the process”.
“People with medical cards or GP visit cards are administered the vaccine for free, but a person under 65-years-old with a medical condition without one will have to pay for the doctor/pharmacy visit.”
On flu vaccine uptake among doctors and other healthcare workers, the HSE spokesperson said there had been a significant increase in uptake in all categories of healthcare workers (HCWs) in recent flu seasons.
“However, strenuous efforts will continue in order to increase uptake rates in line with HSE targets. Within the health system we will still lay emphasis on the need for healthcare workers to get vaccinated, to protect themselves, their families and their patients.”
In August, MI reported that HCWs will not be the principal target of this season’s national flu vaccination campaign.