Pictured at the South East launch of the flu vaccine in the HSE’s offices in Lacken, Kilkenny, where she also received the jab, was Dr. Derval Howley (Head of Service/Health & Wellbeing)
All healthcare workers and people in at-risk groups in the South East are being urged to get the flu vaccine.
The HSE's South East Community Healthcare organisation are re-iterating the message that "if you can’t get the flu, then you can’t spread the flu"– pointing out that vaccine is the only defence against the flu and is the "best shot" for vulnerable people against the life-threatening complications of flu.
Vaccination is strongly recommended for: health care workers, those aged 65 years and older, people (including children) with long term medical conditions, all pregnant women, residents of nursing homes or long-stay facilities and also those in regular contact with pigs, poultry or water fowl.
People in these groups can get the flu vaccine free of charge from their GP (those without medical or GP visit cards may be charged an administration fee).
The flu vaccine is also available and can be administered at local pharmacists. The flu vaccination is provided free of charge to all staff of the HSE.
Chief Officer of South East Community Healthcare Kate Killeen White, in looking at overall statistics relevant to the South East, urged all healthcare workers to get the vaccine and advised as to benefits of less flu in the community.
She said: "In the 2018-19 season, there were 1,293 confirmed cases of flu across counties Carlow, Kilkenny, South Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford.
"32% of those were hospital inpatients, with the remainder occurring among people living in the community. Nine people died from flu related illness in the South East during that period.
"I welcome last year’s increase in uptake of the flu vaccine among healthcare workers but we want such a positive development to continue.
"I hope that every healthcare worker in the South East considers getting vaccinated this year.
By getting the vaccine, healthcare staff are protecting themselves, their families, their colleagues, friends and the people they look after in the health service."
She added: "I am being joined by HSE colleagues in management at University Hospital Waterford, Wexford General Hospital, St. Luke’s General Hospital Carlow/Kilkenny and South Tipperary General Hospital in this call, as ensuring that there are less cases of flu in the community will also alleviate some of the pressures on Emergency Departments and acute inpatient beds – in addition to making sure that residents in community nursing units and in mental health facilities, clients of day care centres and those being supported in disability care services are safer from the threat and consequences of infection."
Dr Jacinta Mulroe, Specialist in Public Health medicine with the HSE in the South East says that everyone should be cognisant of the dangers of flu.
She said: "Flu is a highly infectious viral illness. It causes a sudden onset of illness with symptoms such as a cough, high temperature, headache and aches and pains.
"Flu can cause severe illness and can even be life threatening, particularly among older people, young children, those who have a long term illness and pregnant women.
"Flu is spread from person to person. People with influenza are infectious to other people for 1-2 days before they feel sick and for 5 days after they feel sick.
"The flu can be very dangerous. It causes a few hundred deaths in Ireland each year. Complications such as pneumonia can occur.
"It can cause deterioration in underlying conditions such as COPD and cardiovascular disease. Pregnant women are at high risk of complications due to influenza and they also have an increased risk of miscarriage and premature birth if they get the flu.
"The flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself from it."