Pharmacists welcome expansion of flu vaccination

Flu led to hospitalisation of more than 4,000 people in Ireland during last flu season

Darragh J O’Loughlin, IPU

Pharmacists have welcomed Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly’s announcement that the flu vaccination programme will be expanded this year, saying the move will save lives.

The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) said flu vaccination will play an important role in protecting health during the first winter of living with Covid-19.

“There is no doubt that expanding the programme and making the vaccine free to children, as well as everyone in an at-risk group, will save lives,” IPU Secretary General Darragh O’Loughlin said.

He said more than 4,000 people in Ireland were hospitalised during the last flu season, more than were hospitalised with Covid-19, which was a reminder of the serious nature of the illness.

“Since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, we have consistently called for a significant investment in this year’s national flu vaccination campaign. This is to keep people safe from flu and to protect our health system from its impact, so we can deal with the continuing impact of Covid-19.”

Pharmacists were committed to ensuring expanded availability meant increased uptake nationwide.

Last year there were in excess of 1.1 million flu vaccines delivered in Ireland, which is up 60 per cent since pharmacies were first permitted to administer the vaccine a decade ago.

O’Loughlin urged everyone to get vaccinated early: “The sooner we all get vaccinated the earlier we are protecting ourselves, our families and our entire communities. We can’t yet stop Covid-19, but we have a vaccine to stop the flu, and that is everyone’s responsibility.”

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