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Dublin: -1 °C Monday 18 November, 2019
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Vaccine reminder issued as HSE says 1,000 could die in severe flu season

Those in at-risk groups can get the vaccine free-of-charge from their GP or pharmacy.

Image: woman with tissue via Shutterstock

PEOPLE IN HIGH risk categories are being urged to get vaccinated against the flu.

The HSE reminder is being issued as a Europe-wide study shows that up to 1,000 people in Ireland could die of an influenza related illness during a particularly bad flu season.

Between 200 and 500 people have died each winter over the last eight years as a result of the infection, according to the research from the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

“This study starkly highlights that flu can be a very serious and sometimes deadly illness, especially for people who are older or who have a long-term illness,” the HSE’s Dr Brenda Corcoran said.

“The flu vaccine is the best defence against flu, yet every year many people in the at risk groups fail to get vaccinated and so put themselves at risk of serious illness or even death.

“The vaccine reduces infection and associated illnesses and hospitalisation.”

The at-risk groups include:

  • Everyone aged 65 years and over.
  • Anyone over six months of age with a long term illness requiring regular medical follow-up.
  • Pregnant women.
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long stay facilities.
  • Healthcare workers.

The vaccine is provided free-of-charge for all those in the at-risk groups. Anyone over 18 can get it from their GP or pharmacist, while children can only be immunised by a doctor.

Dr Corcoran advises that anyone who gets flu “should stay at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and use over-the-counter flu remedies to ease symptoms. People in high-risk categories should contact their GP if they develop flu symptoms”.

National uptake figures show that 57 per cent of those aged 65 and over who hold a medical card or GP visit card received the vaccine last winter.

More details and advice can be found at the HSE’s dedicated immunisation website immunisation.ie.

Read: Eleven breaches of patient data at HSE hospitals in six months >

Also: Doctor angered at ‘outrageous breach of patient confidentiality’ at Holles Street >

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