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HSE urges high-risk people to get flu vaccine as virus is 'actively circulating'

The latest figures show that the flu rate has spiked.
Dec 12th 2019, 5:44 PM 37,401 45

AT RISK PEOPLE are being urged to get vaccinated against the flu as the latest figures have revealed that the disease is “actively circulating” in Ireland.

The latest stats show that the flu rate spiked to nearly twice the baseline threshold for assessing influenza activity at the end of last week.

The HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) today urged people in high-risk groups to get vaccinated against the virus if they have not done so already.

Everyone aged 65 years and over, pregnant women, anyone over six months of age with a long term illness requiring regular medical follow-up or those with lower immunity due to disease or treatment is considered high-risk.  

It’s also recommended that all healthcare workers get vaccinated to protect themselves and those they care for.

“The symptoms of influenza usually develop over a matter of a few hours and include a high temperature, sore muscles, dry cough, headache and sore throat,” explained HPSC director, Dr John Cuddihy.

This is different from the common cold, which tends to come on more gradually and usually includes a runny nose and a normal temperature.

Dr Cuddihy said that vaccination remains the most effective means of preventing infection by seasonal influenza viruses and can reduce severe disease that can lead to hospitalisation and death.

The vaccine takes two weeks to take effect after it is received.

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The HPSC issued the following advice on coughing and sneezing to help prevent the flu’s spread:

  • Use a tissue and place it immediately in the bin. Wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve.
  • Don’t cough or sneeze into your hands as this spreads germs to everything you touch.

People who get the flu are being urged to stay at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and use over-the-counter remedies like paracetamol to ease symptoms.

Anyone in one of the at-risk groups who develops flu symptoms, or anyone whose flu symptoms are severe, should contact their GP. They are also being urged to phone ahead to explain that they have the flu before travelling to the doctor. 

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Céimin Burke


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