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IMO calls for early planning to prepare for total population flu vaccination

The President of the IMO Dr Padraig McGarry, has said that the Government’s plans for a total population flu vaccine programme will require urgent and detailed planning now if it is to be successful.

Dr McGarry said that the IMO fully supported the announcement by the Minister for Health that he was seeking a total population flu vaccine scheme.  Dr McGarry said that such a population wide scheme was critically important this year in the context of Covid-19: “Covid-19 changes the flu challenge completely.  We simply can’t have the double-whammy of a flu and Covid-19 crisis this winter.  We have to up our game in respect of flu vaccinations and a total population approach is the way to do it.”

However, Dr McGarry warned that such an ambitious programme would not be without challenge; “If this is to work as it must, we have to invest immediately in detailed planning to get it right.  The key will be to vaccinate people as early as possible.  The IMO will work with the Government to agree an ambitious programme and we look forward to an early engagement on the issue.”

Dr McGarry also warned that the Government can not assume that people will be enthusiastic for a broad vaccination programme; “the sad reality is that the authorities have lost some ground to fringe movements of anti-vaxers.  We have to redouble our efforts to educate people about the necessity and the safety of vaccination and we must not concede any ground to reactionaries or fringe commentators who are only interested in stoking fear.”

Dr McGarry also stressed the importance of a GP focussed vaccination programme; “we’ve seen previously that patients are most likely to take up vaccinations on the advice of their GP.  At this time in particular, continuity of care is vital and GPs are best placed to deliver this.”

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