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Dublin: 2°C Sunday 28 November 2021

Older people encouraged to receive pneumo flu jab

Comedian Brendan Grace is one of the advocates for the vaccine after discovering that as he has diabetes he is at risk for pneumo flu.

Image: John Birdsall/John Birdsall/Press Association Images

JUST ONE IN seven Irish people over the age of 65 has received their vaccination against pneumococcal flu – and now comedian Brendan Grace has joined doctors, nurses and Age Action Ireland to encourage people to receive the shot.

According to the Seven Reasons You Should Know Pneumo health campaign, the disease is likely to cause 200 deaths in Ireland this winter.

Around 400,000 people over 65 in this country are at risk from the bug, which is spread by contact, coughing and sneezing.

Pneumo, as it is known, causes serious illness including pneumonia, meningitis and septicaemia.

The vaccine is generally a one-off injection available from GPs and is available free of charge to people in certain at-risk groups.

This is separate from the traditional winter flu jab and protects against diseases including meningitis, blood poisoning and pneumonia.

Global supplies of the vaccine are made here in Ireland, at the MSD plant in Carlow.

Dr Mick Molloy, a Dublin-based emergency physician at Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, received the pneumo jab as he has diabetes.

He said that historically the reasons people don’t get vaccinated include that they don’t know there is a vaccine available and they don’t realise they are potentially in an at-risk group with a higher risk of getting a disease.

He explained that the jab should help prevent people from contracting certain types of pneumonia. “Hopefully it would prevent  infections that really make [people] very sick  in the winter time.”

He said he and his colleagues were regularly called upon to offer urgent treatment to those arriving in a very ill state at A&E departments after contracting the pneumococcal infection.

Pneumococcal disease can be very serious and, in Ireland, around 200 people each year lose their lives as a result of becoming infected.  These deaths are particularly tragic when you consider that vaccines are available to help protect against pneumococcal disease and are available free of charge to people in certain recommended at-risk groups, such as people over the age of 65.

Brendan Grace said that he discovered that, because he has diabetes, he is in an at‐risk group.

I would strongly encourage those who are over 65, or who might be at risk because they have an existing medical condition, to visit the oneinseven.ie website and ask their GP about the pneumococcal vaccine if they think it could help protect them.

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