Press Release

Tánaiste welcomes beginning of the Influenza Vaccination Campaign

The Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney T.D., today (1st November 2004) welcomed the start of the Influenza Vaccination Campaign. This national and local media campaign will begin on November 2nd.

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.  The Tánaiste endorses this campaign and encourages all those at risk, especially over 65s, to go to their GP for vaccination.

The Tánaiste expressed satisfaction that, notwithstanding a problem with one supplier that affected supplies worldwide, ample supplies of flu vaccine have been secured for Ireland. She thanked all who contributed to this successful outcome, including the Irish Medicines Board, the Eastern Health Shared Services, the Health Boards Executive (HeBE) and her own Department officials. The vaccines have already been distributed to health boards and GP practices throughout the country.

The vaccine is available free of charge from GPs to medical card holders who are deemed to be at risk of serious illness as a result of contracting flu. The “at risk” groups include persons aged 65 years or older, those with specific chronic illness such as chronic heart, lung or kidney disease, and those with a suppressed immune system. In circumstances where a patient is in an “at risk” group but is not a medical card holder, there is no charge for the vaccine as this is provided free of charge to the GP from health board supplies; however, the fee for administering the vaccine in such cases is a matter between the GP and the patient.

The Immunisation Advisory Committee of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland advises that influenza vaccine should be considered for all health care workers who have direct patient contact.  Health Boards have been asked to offer health care workers vaccination against influenza on an annual basis.

Concluding the Tánaiste thanked HeBE for again organising this year’s campaign and all of those involved in the campaign at local, regional and national level for the effort involved.