Patients pushed to get vaccinated as flu rates rise 'significantly'

A new report shows the influenza-like illness rate has doubled within two weeks

Patients pushed to get vaccinated as flu rates rise 'significantly'

File photo | Image: Martin Keene PA Archive/PA Images

Levels of influenza and respiratory illnesses have risen throughout the country over the last two weeks.

The latest Influenza surveillance report from Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC) shows an almost doubling of the influenza like illness rate (ILI) to 46.7, compared with 25.8 for the previous week. The ILI rate is expected to increase further in the coming weeks.

There have been several ILI outbreaks in both residential care facilities and in acute hospital settings throughout the country, but particularly in the Dublin area. The predominant flu strain is AH3 which is affecting mostly older people rather than younger age groups.

In response to this, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is urging people to avail of the flu vaccination "as soon as possible". The HSE has previously warned that flu could cause up to 1,000 deaths if Ireland has a severe winter.

Research has shown that the flu vaccine cuts the risk of death from influenza for elderly patients and reduces the chance of hospitalisation.  

Ann Marie Horan, a pharmacist and member of the Executive Committee of the Irish Pharmacy Union, said: The flu vaccination is the best way to reduce the chances that a patient will get the flu and spread it to others.  We would encourage patients, especially at-risk patients, who include elderly people, pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses, to visit their local pharmacy to get the flu vaccine now. It is not too late."

One person died of the flue in 2016, the HSE confirmed