Flu is a very serious illness – there can be potentially 1,000 flu related deaths in Ireland during a severe flu season. The HSE recommends that the following groups of at-risk people should be vaccinated against seasonal influenza:
Everyone aged 65 years and over
Anyone over six months of age with a long term illness requiring regular medical follow-up such as chronic lung disease, chronic heart disease, diabetes or those with lower immunity due to disease or treatment
Residents of nursing homes and other long stay facilities
In addition to seasonal flu vaccination, some people in the at-risk groups may also need pneumococcal vaccine which is available from GPs. Pneumococcal vaccine is not required every year – most people only need to get it once, so those at risk should check with their GP.
The HSE provides the flu and pneumococcal vaccine free of charge for all those in the at-risk groups. The vaccine and consultation are free for people with a medical card or GP visit card. People who do not have a medical card or GP visit card will be charged a consultation fee.
Those aged 18 years or older in the at risk groups may attend either their GP or pharmacist for vaccination and people under 18 should go to their GP.
Visit the HSE’s dedicated immunisation website – immunisation.ie – to find out more about the annual flu vaccination and the pneumococcal vaccine.