Press Release

Department of Health convenes meeting of National Public Health Emergency Team

The Department of Health convened a meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team this evening. The meeting was chaired by the Department of Health Chief Medical Officer.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is the forum for managing the interface between the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive during the planning and response phases of a public health incident of national importance.

Key points noted at the meeting:

  • Influenza A(H3) is the predominant influenza virus circulating.
  • Influenza hospitalisations and influenza outbreaks have continued to increase.
  • The majority of outbreaks have been associated with residential care facilities/community hospitals, mainly affecting those aged 65 years and older.
  • Vaccination is still worthwhile this winter for health care workers and at risk groups.
  • Vaccination rates have improved in at risk groups but remain disappointingly low among health care workers.
  • Influenza viruses, mainly A(H3N2), started circulating early in Ireland this winter season.

Also:

Vaccination is strongly recommended for

  • persons aged 65 and older
  • those with a long term medical condition such as diabetes. heart, kidney, lung or neurological disease
  • people whose immune system is impaired due to disease or treatment
  • persons with a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 40
  • pregnant women (at any stage in pregnancy)
  • residents of nursing homes and other long stay institutions
  • people with regular close contact with poultry, water fowl or pigs
  • health care workers
  • carers

An expert group comprising the HSE, the National Virus Reference Laboratory and the HPSC will brief the media tomorrow and on a weekly basis during the influenza period.