The flu season has started earlier than normal this year and reported cases continue to increase.
There have already been 270 hospitalised flu cases with 15 patients admitted to intensive care.
Dr. Kevin Kelleher, Director of Public Health said, “We are now seeing a major rise in people attending GPs and GP out of hours services with influenza-like illnesses (ILI).
The best protection for people from the flu virus is the flu vaccine, yet every year many people in at-risk groups fail to get vaccinated and so put themselves at risk of serious illness or even death.
The vaccine reduces infection and associated illnesses and hospitalisation. Flu is very infectious and can cause potentially serious illnesses especially for older people, those who have a chronic illness, those with weakened immune systems and pregnant women.
The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu as it does not contain any live flu virus and all those at risk who have not been vaccinated should get the vaccine as soon as possible to make sure that they are protected.”
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 seasonal flu vaccine is available from your GP or pharmacist.
It is expected that influenza activity will peak in the next 1-2 weeks and that increased influenza activity will continue for the next 4-5 weeks.