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04 Jul 2022

HSE update on the extension of the free flu vaccine

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The HSE is asking people aged 50 and over to get their free flu vaccine following an update to immunisation policy by the Department of Health.

The HSE said the extension of the free flu vaccine for people aged 50 and over, for this season, will maximise the impact of the flu programme and reduce the risk of influenza compounding the winter pressures on our healthcare system due to COVID-19.

The influenza vaccine and its administration will now be available free of charge to people aged 50 years and older through participating GPs and pharmacies. This change will be in place until the end of this influenza season in April 2022.

A statement said the policy is line with National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) recommendations for the flu vaccine.

The flu vaccine is now recommended if you are in one of the following groups:

·         Aged 50 and over (previously 65 years and over)

·         A health care worker

·         A child aged 2 - 17

·         At any stage of pregnancy

·         People with certain medical conditions which put them at increased risk from the complications of flu.

Dr Aparna Keegan is the Specialist in Public Health Medicine and Flu Lead in the HSE National Immunisation Office.

“We welcome the Department of Health’s extension of the Seasonal Influenza Immunisation programme to include people aged 50 years and older. Flu can be a serious illness and can affect people of all ages. We would encourage those aged 50 years and older coming forward for their COVID-19 booster vaccine to also avail of the free flu vaccine through participating GPs and Pharmacies,” sad Dr Keegan.

Dr Colm Henry, Chief Clinical Officer, HSE urged people to get vaccinated.

“Flu is highly infectious and can sometimes cause severe complications, such as bronchitis, pneumonia or encephalitis. While some complications are rare, they are still possible. Getting the flu vaccine is your best shot at protecting yourself and those around you this flu season.

"We have asked you to get your booster vaccine to protect against COVID-19, and now we’re pleased to be in a positon to offer you a free flu vaccine as well. We have seen extraordinary levels of flu vaccine uptake with older people, and encourage the same enthusiasm in the over 50s age group,” he said.

For a full list of recommended groups visit www.hse.ie/flu

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