26 September, 2008
The HSE encourages all those aged over-65 and medically at-risk groups to get the influenza vaccination now, as they normally would. The HSE stresses that the vaccine is available this year in the same manner as it has been over the past eight years.
The HSE had planned this year to expand the influenza vaccination programme to a wider age group, but this decision has been postponed. In a progressive move, the HSE is continuing to plan to expand the age group of those eligible for the flu vaccine.
The HSE urges all those who are over 65 and those in the following medical risk groups to get the vaccine from their local GP:
- adults and children over six months of age with any of the following chronic illnesses requiring regular follow up (e.g. chronic respiratory disease including cystic fibrosis, moderate or severe asthma, chronic heart disease, diabetes mellitus etc)
- persons whose immune system is suppressed due to disease or treatment including those with missing or non functioning spleens
- children and teenagers on long-term aspirin therapy
- residents of nursing homes, old peoples' homes and other long-stay facilities
- healthcare staff
- carers who have direct patient contact
- poultry workers, veterinary inspectors, park rangers and those with likely contact with water fowl (as this puts them at risk of co-infection with avian influenza
The vaccine is free and offers a high degree of protection against influenza and does not give you the flu.
The new age group to whom we plan to deliver the vaccine will broaden the eligibility and, once introduced, would make Ireland one of the only a few countries internationally to offer such an option within its health care system.
The recent decision made to postpone the expansion relates to the need to focus on increasing the uptake of the vaccine amongst the current eligible category - all people over 65 and those in the medical risk groups. The HSE made a decision that to implement this expansion would diminish resources that we consider necessary to ensure that more people in the current eligible groups avail of the vaccine.
The HSE will be committing more resources to vaccinating the current eligible groups, thereby preventing more hospital admissions and deaths from flu among the vulnerable groups.
For further information, please contact:
Head of National Press Office
Last updated on: 26 / 09 / 2008