Minister welcomes beginning of the 2006 Influenza Vaccination Campaign
The Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney T.D., today (16th October 2006) welcomed the start of the Influenza Vaccination Campaign. The Minister also expressed satisfaction that the Health Service Executive had secured additional supplies of flu vaccine for this winter season.
The purpose of the media campaign is to remind those people at risk of contracting flu and who have not yet received the vaccine to do so immediately. “I encourage all those at risk, especially over 65’s, to go to their GP for vaccination. It is especially important that all carers and healthcare workers get the flu vaccine as it will protect them, their families and those in their care”, said the Minister.
The Minister added that “the vaccine is highly effective against the complications of flu. Its impact in reducing mortality from flu in older people is well documented. The flu virus changes every year so it is important that at risk people are vaccinated annually against the most recent strains”.
Flu vaccine is available free of charge from general practitioners to all those at risk of contracting the disease. The “at risk” groups include persons aged 65 years or older, healthcare workers and carers, those with specific chronic illness such as chronic heart, lung or kidney disease, or with a suppressed immune system. For persons in the “at risk” groups complications arising from flu such as pneumonia are common and can be fatal, particularly in the elderly.
For those in the at-risk group with a medical card there is no charge for either the vaccine or the administration of the vaccine.
In circumstances where a patient is in the at risk groups but not a medical card holder, there is no charge for the actual vaccine as this is provided free of charge to general practitioners from Health Service Executive supplies. However, the fee for administering the vaccine in such cases is a matter between the general practitioner and the patient.
All those for whom immunisation is recommended are encouraged to avail of the flu vaccine at the earliest possible opportunity.
The Minister is also encouraging people in the at risk groups who have not previously been vaccinated against pneumococcal disease to avail of this vaccine in addition to the flu vaccine. This vaccine is also available free of charge from general practitioners to medical card holders at risk of contracting the disease. While the flu vaccine must be repeated annually, this is not necessary for pneumococcal vaccine because it provides longer term immunity.