Everyone aged 65 and over and those living with certain conditions such as chronic heart disease, can now get a free flu vaccine from their GP or local pharmacy.
The flu vaccine will help protect those most at risk of serious illness from flu and it is the best way to protect yourself as we head into the winter months.
If you’re 65 or over you are at higher risk of serious illness or complications such as pneumonia if you get the flu.
This 2021-2022 flu season the flu vaccine being offered to people aged over 65 is called Fluad Tetra*.
This is an adjuvanted vaccine. That means it contains an ingredient that stimulates the immune system, making it more effective against flu in older people. It is being offered in Ireland for the first time this year, but a similar vaccine has been used for several years in various countries including the UK and USA.
Those aged 65 years and over can contact their GP or local pharmacy to make an appointment while those living in long-term residential care will be offered the flu vaccine where they live.
In Ireland, between 200 and 500 people, mainly older people, die from flu each winter
Dr Aparna Keegan, Specialist in Public Health Medicine and Flu Lead, HSE National Immunisation Office, said, “Flu is a serious illness. Although the severity of the flu season can vary, we know that people aged 65 and over are most likely to impacted and have an increased likelihood of severe illness, being admitted into hospital or dying from flu when compared to the general population. The flu vaccine is the best protection against flu this winter.”
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, said, “As we emerge from the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is vital to remember that there are other viruses that can take an enormous toll upon the most at-risk in our society, as well as those working in our healthcare system.
Flu is an unpleasant illness for the majority, but for some it is life-threatening, resulting in serious illness and hospitalisation. Regrettably, up to 500 people in Ireland die from this disease every year.
This is why it is so important that, if you are eligible to get a flu vaccine, you do so as soon as it is offered to you. A flu vaccine will protect those aged over 65 from the very worst effects of flu. For healthcare workers, getting vaccinated means protecting themselves, their patients, and their families.
Last year we saw encouraging uptake among healthcare workers and my hope is that this trend will continue this year.”
Commenting Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director of the Irish Heart Foundation said, “As the country, thankfully, opens up again we will all be meeting more people face to face so the chances of catching flu will rise again. It is therefore so important that those who are vulnerable get vaccinated against flu to reduce their risk of serious consequences should they catch it”.
" It is so important that those who are vulnerable get vaccinated against flu to reduce their risk of serious consequences should they catch it”.
In Ireland, between 200 and 500 people, mainly older people, die from flu each winter. Every year around the world, flu causes between 3 and 5 million cases of severe disease and up to 646,000 deaths. Visit hse.ie for more information.
Who should get the free flu vaccine?
This year the free flu vaccine is recommended for you if you are in one of these groups:
For a full list of recommended groups visit the HSE website
The flu vaccine does not protect against COVID-19 It is important to get both the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine. This is because flu and COVID are caused by different viruses.
Some people are being offered an additional COVID-19 vaccine or booster at this time too. Additional doses are being offered to people with weakened immune system. Booster doses will shortly be offered to those over 65 living in residential care or those over 80 living in the community. COVID-19 vaccines and the flu vaccine can be taken separately or together. It is safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as the flu vaccine.
For more information on COVID-19 vaccines please see here
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