Press Release

Minister for Health receives Update on Flu Plans

Minister appeals to all those in at risk groups, as well as healthcare workers, to get the flu vaccine

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, has met with senior officials from the Department of Health & the HSE for an update on influenza plans for the coming season.

The HSE outlined that a National Steering Group is currently in place and each Hospital group and Community Health Organisation have developed plans, based on lessons learned from last year. These include additional measures to vaccinate health care workers, as well as measures to control flu in long term care facilities.

The HSE is also running a programme for immunising at risk groups including people over 65 years of age and pregnant women.

Speaking after the meeting, Minister Harris said:“The Chief Medical Officer has informed me that he has been in contact with his counterparts in Northern Ireland and the UK and at EU level.  All of the available data shows that influenza activity in Ireland is currently low but this is being monitored very closely in advance of the flu season when it can be expected to increase.

“I am pleased that the HSE has confirmed to me that flu plans are in place across hospital groups and community health services. The immunisation programme office also informed me that 60,000 additional doses of the flu vaccine have been administered this year so far compared to the same period last year.

“This is welcome but there is much more to do. I would appeal to all those who work in our health services and who are in regular contact with vulnerable patients to get the vaccine. You will not just protect yourself, you will also protect the vulnerable people in your care. I would ask patients to question those you are looking after you on whether they have had the vaccine, you have that right. I would also encourage all those in at risk groups to get the vaccine now, as it can take up to 2 weeks to take effect. The vaccine reduces the risk of influenza as well as reducing hospitalisations and mortality in older people.”

The HSE will continue to monitor the level of influenza across the population in the coming weeks, as well as the control measures in place in hospitals and the community, and will brief the Minister on developments.