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This is, however, considerably short of the HSE’s published uptake target of 40 per cent for healthcare workers.
At-risk groups and healthcare workers who have not yet been vaccinated are being urged to do so, as rates of flu illness continue to rise and have doubled in the last week.
According to the HSE, it is important that all those working in frontline healthcare protect themselves from getting the flu but also prevent spreading the flu to vulnerable patients. The flu vaccine is available free to healthcare workers from their local Occupational Health department.
The Executive is reporting that over 34,000 more people in at-risk groups who hold a medical or GP visit card received the flu vaccine so far this flu season compared to the previous flu season.
Head of the HSE National Immunisation Office, Dr Brenda Corcoran, 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.
“The flu vaccine is the only defence against flu, yet every year many people in at-risk groups fail to get vaccinated and so put themselves at risk of serious illness or even death,” said Dr Corcoran.
“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 who have not been vaccinated should get the vaccine as soon as possible to make sure that they are protected.”
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; and healthcare workers.