THE HSE IS APPEALING FOR all pregnant women who have received the swine flu vaccine to return to their doctors for the full flu vaccine, after evidence emerged that there is a significant risk of death for pregnant women from influenza B.
Dr Kevin Kelleher of the HSE notified GPs yesterday to contact their relevant patients, according to the Irish Times.
The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) previously said that women at any stage of pregnancy could get the seasonal flu vaccine. However, there should be a three week gap between receiving the swine flu vaccine and the seasonal flu vaccine, which provides immunity against swine flu (influenza A) as well as influenza B.
The number of influenza B cases has been increasing in recent weeks, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), which monitors flu rates. Nearly one in five flu cases in Ireland involves influenza B.
Meawhile, swine flu remains the most prevalent flu strain in Ireland.
Two seriously ill swine flu patients have been flown to Denmark by the HSE for treatment, the Independent reports. Both are suffering severe respiratory complications due to swine flu and are undergoing treatment to increase the supply of oxygen to their blood.
Anyone who thinks they may be suffering from the flu is advised to call a doctor first, before considering travelling to hospital. In the first week of 2011, the proportion of flu-related calls for GP out-of-hours services reached a new record of 14.4%.
People whose immune systems are compromised are more susceptible to contracting the flu. The World Health Organisation says the highest risk of complications arise among children under the age of two, adults aged 65 or over, and people with weakened immunity.
Three people have died from flu in the Republic this winter and at least 13 people have died in Northern Ireland since November.