Press Release

Minister Varadkar, HSE, ICGP and IPU launch

Tony O'Brien, Director General f the HSE and Minister for Health Leo Varadkar T.D., pictured with Sinead Fleming, age 7 (left) and sisters, Katie Mae and Ellie O'Sullivan, age 7 and 9 at the launch of the "Under the Weather" campaign and new online resource and advice support to help people through common illnesses held in the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin. Visit for further information about the new campaign. Pic. Robbie Reynolds.

Tony O’Brien, Director General, HSE and Minister for Health Leo Varadkar T.D., pictured with Sinead Fleming, age 7 (left) and sisters, Katie Mae and Ellie O’Sullivan, age 7 and 9 at the launch of the “Under the Weather” campaign.

– Get Advice and Get Better with –


– New online resource with advice and support to help people through common illnesses –

The Under the Weather campaign and new online support was launched today by the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, T.D.  We all need sound advice to give us the confidence and skill we need to take care of ourselves and our families; aims to give you that advice., developed by the HSE in partnership with GPs and pharmacists, offers straightforward advice on how to get through common illnesses without antibiotics.

The website gives sensible practical information, developed by health professionals, on a range of common conditions like colds, flu, earaches, sore throats and tummy bugs. It tells you how long they should last, what to expect, and what you can do to cope with, and recover from, these illnesses. The site includes a series of videos featuring GPs and Pharmacists who offer their expertise on dealing with these common illnesses, practical remedies, and advice on when to seek help from either a pharmacist or a doctor.

Research has shown that a lot of people still believe that antibiotics can help to treat common illnesses, like colds, flu, earaches, tummy bugs and rashes. In fact antibiotics are useless against most of these infections, which are caused by viruses, and antibiotics don’t work on viruses. Learning how to manage common illnesses with confidence and common sense is a great life skill and improves our understanding of when we need antibiotics and when we don’t.  It’s something that we learn from our parents, friends, doctors, from our own experience and, more and more, from the internet. Under the Weather has been developed in response to this, to support the public in accessing trusted and reliable health information, developed by the HSE with expert knowledge and advice from GPs and pharmacists.

Speaking at today’s event Minister Varadkar said: “The Under the Weather campaign is about ensuring that we only use antibiotics when we really need them. Using antibiotics when they’re not necessary can cause harmful side effects and is a waste of money, but the biggest risk is that it creates stronger, more resistant infections that can make us very ill.

“Many people’s first instinct, on discovering that their child is ill or if they feel ill themselves, is to search for advice online. is a user-friendly and trustworthy website which gives advice from health professionals on how to look after yourself and your loved ones without using antibiotics, with the added reassurance of knowing when it’s time to look for support from their pharmacist or doctor.”

Mr. Tony O’Brien, Director General of the Health Service, commented; “The purpose of is to build on the work undertaken in previous years to raise awareness of antibiotic resistance but, based on feedback and research, this year we are focusing on self-care and developing the skills we all need to look after ourselves and our loved ones.

Antibiotic resistance is a global health threat, and one that is being tackled on a range of fronts, in Ireland and internationally.  We need to ensure that we preserve antibiotics for when they are really needed – for everything else, your common cold and nasty cough – the best advice is on”

Dr. Philip Crowley, HSE National Director for Quality and Patient Safety, explained: “ is part of our ongoing work to tackle the global threat of overuse of antibiotics, and the fact that antibiotics are becoming less and less effective – known as antimicrobial resistance. The common conditions included in the site are almost always caused by a virus, so an antibiotic is useless in dealing with these illnesses.  We want to support people to know what to do when they are unwell, and when to get advice from a health professional, but also that antibiotics are almost never the answer when it comes to these common complaints.”

GPs have a leading role to play in community prescribing of antibiotics, and Dr. Nuala O’Connor, ICGP Lead for Antimicrobial Resistance, played a leading role in developing ‘This year’s campaign marks a real departure, the simple, easy to read content, videos and advice from GPs and our Pharmacist, represent the health education that goes on in GP surgeries every day.  The only way we will reduce unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics is through medical education, which we are undertaking, and public education to build confidence and reduce demand. We may know there’s no point in taking antibiotics for common viral illnesses, but will tell you what you can do, and how you can get better.

Ms. Kathy Maher, President, Irish Pharmacy Union said; ‘Pharmacists provide expert health advice in every community on how to ease the symptoms of common conditions. As well as expert advice, tips and guidance on what over the counter remedies can work for you, your pharmacist will let you know when you should seek advice from your doctor. We’re delighted to be part of the development and promotion of this innovative new resource and to work with doctors and the HSE to reduce unnecessary antibiotic use.”

Along with practical advice, Under the Weather offers videos from leading Irish GPs, Nuala O’Connor from Cork, Andrew Murphy from NUIG, and Eamonn Shanahan from Kerry who talk about a range of common illnesses affecting babies, children and adults. They provide tips on how to manage your symptoms so you’ll be feeling better as quick as possible and when you should contact your GP. The website also features pharmacist Tom Maher from Duleek Pharmacy in Co. Meath, outlining how the community pharmacist is on hand to deliver advice on over the counter remedies for you and your family. This type of rich digital content; advice from medical professionals, is ideal for the consumer audience and adds to the user friendly feel and accessible content on the site. will be promoted through radio and online advertising including video on demand (pre-roll on TV players) and through social media over the winter months.  GP surgeries and community pharmacies will display printed leaflets and posters as well as stickers for pharmacy doors, to promote the new online information source. The website is mobile, tablet and desktop friendly and will be a useful companion to anyone who’s feeling under the weather. Visit for more.

Under the Weather is part of the ongoing Health Service-wide Action on Antibiotics programme, which has been in place since 2011, and supports the public and health professional professionals to take collective action to curb antibiotic resistance in our community and in our health system.

Parallel activities for medical professionals and pharmacists which focus on what they can do to keep antibiotics safe for future generations will take place at a Clinical Professional Development Session in the RCPI on Thursday, 20th November to mark European Antibiotic Awareness Day.


Issued by: National Press Office, Dr Steevens’ Hospital, Dublin 8, Tel: 01 635 2840 Email:

Notes to Editor

Visit the website –

Videos from can also be viewed as a playlist on the HSE Youtube Channel here

GP and Pharmacy Leaflets and Poster –