All eligible persons have been encouraged to avail of both vaccines Alamy Stock Photo
flu season

Public encouraged to get Covid-19 and flu vaccines ahead of winter virus season ‘peak’

The Chief Medical Officer has reminded eligible persons to boost their protection before the respiratory virus season reaches its peak.

THE IRISH PUBLIC has been encouraged to take up their Covid-19 and flu vaccines ahead of the “peak” of winter’s virus season.

That’s the message from Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Professor Breda Smyth and Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) Rachel Kenna to all eligible persons following the commencement of the 2023/2024 influenza campaign.

The seasonal vaccination programme will offer a flu vaccine in the form of a nasal spray for those aged 2-12, and an injectable flu vaccine for all other eligible groups.

A Covid-19 booster vaccine is also available for those aged 50 and over, and certain other categories including those who are immunocompromised.

While the Department of Health said there has been a strong uptake for both vaccines to date, the CMO and CNO are reminding eligible persons to boost their protection before the respiratory virus season reaches its peak.

The two vaccines can be administered at the same time and are available through participating GPs and pharmacies, and in healthcare settings for healthcare workers.

The children’s nasal spray flu vaccine is also available to some primary school children within schools.

CMO Professor Breda Smyth said that “along with good hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, vaccines are the best way to protect ourselves from the respiratory illnesses circulating this winter”.

Smyth said it’s “very important that all those who are invited” avail of their vaccines, describing it as a “quick and easy way for people to protect their health, as well as protecting those around them”.

Smyth also noted that young children are more likely to be very sick from flu and encouraged parents and guardians to consider getting their child vaccinated.

Meanwhile, CNO Rachel Kenna appealed to those in health and social care settings to get vaccinated to protect themselves and vulnerable patients.

Walk-in vaccination clinics for healthcare workers are operating around the country, with more details of these clinics available here.

The flu vaccine is available free of charge for everyone aged 65 and over, children aged 2 to 12, those who are pregnant, and to patients aged 6-23 months and 13-64 years at increased risk of flu-related complications.

It’s also available free of charge to nursing home and other long stay facilities residents, healthcare workers, household contacts of people with underlying conditions or Down Syndrome, and out of home care givers.

Children who missed out on the flu vaccine in school can still get it through GPs and pharmacies.

Meanwhile, Covid-19 boosters are available for those aged 50 and older, those aged 5-49 with immunocompromise associated with a suboptimal response to vaccination, and those aged 5-49 years with medical conditions associated with a higher risk of Covid-19 hospitalisation, severe disease or death.

It’s also available to health and care workers and pregnant persons, if it is more than six months since their previous vaccine or Covid-19 infection