Press Release

Harris asks older people to #bewinterready and get the flu vaccine

Government today launched the ‘Be Winter-Ready’ 2017 -2018 Information Campaign, focusing on health preparedness for older people and emphasising the importance of the flu vaccine in this regard.

Speaking at the launch, Minister Harris said “I am pleased to present the latest element of #bewinterready with the launch of this leaflet with advice for older people, including flu vaccination. This complements the HSE’s #ProtectOurPatients and #YourBestShot vaccination campaigns, which were launched a short while ago.

“I would like to take this opportunity to again encourage all those in at risk groups to get the flu vaccine now, as it can take up to 2 weeks to take effect. The vaccine reduces the risk of influenza as well as reducing hospitalisation and mortality in older people.”

“I am also pleased to see the revised ‘Be Winter Ready’ leaflet and booklet which include additional advice for older people and people with disabilities on keeping well and warm, staying safe in cold and icy conditions and on preventing falls.”

The campaign was jointly launched by the Minister with responsibility for Defence, Mr Paul Kehoe TD as Chair of the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning, Mr Simon Harris TD, Minister for Health, Mr Shane Ross TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Mr Michael Ring TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development, Mr Damien English, Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government with special responsibility for Housing and Urban Development, and Mr Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran TD, Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief.

All of Ministers at the launch stressed that the main message that they wish to convey today is to be prepared, stay safe and know where to find help if you need it.

Follow @emergencyIE and to join in the conversation at #bewinterready

Read the Be Winter Ready leaflet here


Notes to Editor

The main objectives of the ‘Be Winter-Ready’ information campaign are:

  • To provide practical advice on how best to prepare for the coming winter.
  • To ensure the public are aware of where advice and help can be found, if needed, and
  • To reassure the public that preparations are being made and arrangements have been put in place to ensure that there will be a coordinated response to severe weather events.

Through a dedicated website, advice is being made available from a number of sources including Government Departments and Agencies, An Garda Síochána, the Health Service Executive, the Office of Public Works, Local Authorities and the transport providers.

This year’s seasonal flu vaccine protects against the three common flu virus strains expected to be circulating this year based on advice from the World Health Organization.

It is important for all those in the at risk groups to be vaccinated again this year as the virus strains in the vaccine have changed since last year.

The following groups of at-risk people should be vaccinated against seasonal influenza:

  • Everyone aged 65 years and over
  • Anyone over six months of age with a long term illness requiring regular medical follow-up such as chronic lung disease, chronic heart disease, diabetes or those with lower immunity due to disease or treatment
  • Pregnant women
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long stay facilities
  • Healthcare workers

The vaccine and consultation are free for those with a Medical Card or GP Visit Card. Those without a Medical Card or GP Visit Card will be charged a consultation fee.

Those aged 18 years or older in at-risk groups may attend either their GP or pharmacist for vaccination and those under 18 years should attend their GP.

Seasonal flu vaccines are safe and have been given for more than 60 years to millions of people across the world. Reactions are generally mild and serious side effects are very rare.