Government urged to take steps to protect schools from flu outbreak

Fianna Fáil have called for school staff to receive the flu vaccine free of charge

Flu, vaccine, HSE, HPSC, GP consultation, cold and flu, at risk groups, Dr Darina O'Flanagan

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With schools around the country set to reopen tomorrow there are calls for fresh efforts to protect children and teachers from the flu.

Fianna Fáil has called on the government to provide the flu vaccine free of charge to teachers, SNAs and other school staff.

The party’s education spokesperson Thomas Byrne has said principals have expressed concern over the potential impact the virus could have on the upcoming term.

“I’m calling for the Government to provide the flu vaccine to teachers, SNAs and ancillary school staff free of charge,” he said.

“Already principals are telling me that they are hearing from staff who are going to be out sick next week because of the flu.

“Substitute teachers are really, really difficult to find so this is not just a health situation but very much an education situation as well.”

"Not too late"

He has insisted it is “not too late” to administer the vaccine and achieve effective results.

He said it is essential that staff are protected “as best as possible” to ensure that “the whole system will not suffer under the weight of this particular flu episode that is going around the country at the moment.”

Guidelines

Meanwhile the Social Democrats have called on the HSE to offer clear guidance to schools on how to prevent the spread of the virus.

The party’s spokesperson on children, Councillor Jennifer Whitmore, says many parents have voiced real concern over the potential impact on their children’s health.

“The HSE has said it expects a leap in the numbers of people with flu when schools go back,” she said.

“Clear and comprehensive public information must be made available so that parents, schools and crèches are aware of how to prevent the spread of flu and how to recognise symptoms in order to stop the illness from spreading in our communities.”

The HSE recorded a spike in flu-like illnesses over the last two weeks of 2017.