Last year more than 4,300 people were hospitalised with the seasonal flu in Ireland – more than the total number hospitalised so far with Covid-19. Speaking in today’s Dáil, Róisín Shortall, TD and co-leader of the Social Democrats, called on Government to secure additional supply of the flu vaccine to counteract a surge of flu cases while preparing for a potential second wave of Covid-19.
Deputy Shortall commented, “While Ireland works to prevent a second wave of Covid-19, it is vital that we work to reduce the impact of the seasonal flu to protect capacity in our health service.
“With hospital capacity already reduced by between 25-50% as a result of social distancing and new infection control measures, the Government urgently needs to develop a robust plan for stemming spread of the flu. Otherwise we will face a surge in flu cases alongside a potential second wave of Covid-19. Together, these two viruses would make for a very dangerous situation which would completely overwhelm our already stretched hospitals.
“The Government says that 1.35 million doses of the flu vaccine have been ordered this year, which is only approx. 150,000 more than last year. They need to ensure that sufficient supply of the vaccine is secured to meet an increased demand from the public, who now have a heightened awareness of viral infections and will want to avoid hospitalisation even more this year, as well as all those now covered in the expanded free-of-charge vaccination programme.”
9 July 2020
Notes to editor:
The Minister for Health announced in May 2020 that the free-of-charge influenza vaccination programme would be extended to include all HSE-define at-risk groups aged 6 months to 69 years, all children aged 2 to 12 years. All over-70s were already included in the free-of-charge flu vaccination programme. The press statement can be found here: https://www.gov.ie/en/press-
During the winter 2019/20 flu season, just under 1.2 million flu vaccines were ordered, while 1.1 million were delivered.