NEWS

People in at risk groups urged to get the Flu jab as Flu season arrives

28 people died of Flu last season in the north west with 229 deaths across the country

Staff Reporter

Reporter:

Staff Reporter

People in at risk groups and health care workers are being urged to get their annual Flu jab.
The Flu season has arrived and for people in at risk groups, it is essential that they get their annual flu jab. 
Flu is a very serious and sometimes deadly disease, with potentially 1,000 flu related deaths in Ireland during a severe flu season.

The flu is a highly contagious virus that can be spread easily. The impact of Flu across health services in Ireland is increasing year on year with the most notable increase from season 2016-2017 to 2017-2018 where Hospitalisations and Critical Care admissions nearly tripled; outbreaks in residential facilities and Hospitals doubled and mortality rates more than doubled. The 2017-2018 season figures exceeded all previous records in Ireland, including those of the 2009 pandemic.

In CHO 1 (Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan and Sligo), sadly 28 people died of Flu last season with 229 deaths across the country. 

Dr Anthony Breslin of The Department of Public Health Medicine North West reported that in the 2017/2018 flu season, in the North West (Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim) 420 cases of flu were reported. Over 62% of the cases notified were hospital admissions. Many more cases went unreported as people looked after themselves at home and did not seek help from their GP or hospital. 

The annual Flu jab is the safest and most effective way to protect against the life-threatening complications of flu. It is the best defence against flu for people in at risk groups and health care workers.  The at risk groups include people aged 65 years and older, people (including children) with long term medical conditions, all pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy, residents of nursing homes or long-stay facilities, all health care workers and also those in regular contact with pigs, poultry or water fowl. 

Cara O’ Neill, Head of Health and Wellbeing for Community Healthcare Organisation Area 1 (Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan & Sligo), stressed the importance of being vaccinated against flu and keeping healthy and well this winter. She stated: “I want to strongly encourage people in the at risk groups to get the flu jab to protect yourself, your loved ones and those around you.” She added that a " CHO 1 Flu and Winter Plan has been prepared and will be implemented throughout the Winter period." 

Dr Anthony Breslin stated: "I urge all those in the at risk groups to get the flu vaccine as the winter season approaches. For some people, flu can cause serious complications such as pneumonia and can lead to an increased risk of heart attacks and stroke, even in previously healthy people.”

As part of this year’s CHO 1 Flu Protection Campaign, a series of posters, information leaflets targeting the at risk groups and conveying the message to get vaccinated are displayed in HSE Primary Care Centres, Residential and Day Care facilities across the five counties. A series of workshops are also being held in partnership with staff to convey the importance of health care workers getting the flu jab. As part of the campaign a number of Flu Champions are in place to promote the uptake of the flu jab among staff. According to Jackie Mc Manus, Clinical Nurse Manager II, Donegal Mental Health Services. “I have been a Flu Champion and an Infection Control Liaison nurse for the past 5 years. We have an ageing profile of service users and exposure to the influenza virus would be detrimental to their health resulting in fatalities. For this reason, I advocate the flu jab to all my colleagues. Don’t be a carrier as a Health Care provider, we have a responsibility to our service users, we owe it to them to get the vaccine.” 

Ann Marie Campbell, Clinical Nurse Manager, St Mary’s Hospital Castleblaney, Cavan/Monaghan Older Person’s Services stated: “For me, being a flu champion is about promoting better health and wellbeing. I feel it is important for all staff to get the flu vaccine to protect themselves their families and their loved ones. Last year in Ireland 188 people needed critical care as a result of the flu and a total of 229 people died, we need to change those statistics”. 

The Flu jab is available from your General Practitioner and local Pharmacy. People with medical or GP visit cards can avail of the jab for free. All Health Care Workers can receive the jab for free within their workplace through Occupational Health and Peer Vaccinator clinics. 

Further information is available on www.hse.ie/flu. This website provides details on the annual flu vaccination and the pneumococcal vaccine, along with answers to any questions people may have about flu. Advice, tips, information and videos on getting over flu and other common illnesses are available at www.undertheweather.ie. 
The HSE are running an active Twitter campaign for flu which can be found at #yourbestshot #fluvaccine.