The Health Service Executive in the north west is urging all people in risk groups to get the flu vaccine.
Incidences of the flu have tripled in the country over the past two weeks and the HSE says the proportion of flu related calls to GP services has reached the highest level reported for six years and respiratory admissions reached the highest level ever reported.
The HSE said several Community Hospitals and Nursing Units across Community Healthcare Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan and Sligo that been closed to admissions and have restricted visiting in place due to the current flu outbreak.
The following groups of at-risk people who 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, pregnant women, residents of nursing homes and other residential care services and all healthcare workers
The HSE provides the flu vaccine free of charge for all those in the at-risk groups and the vaccine is available from GPs and local pharmacy.
Dr. Brenda Corcoran, Head of the HSE National Immunisation Office urged those in at risk groups, who have not yet been vaccinated, to get the vaccine. “The flu vaccine is a lifesaver because flu can be a very serious and sometimes deadly disease, with potentially 1,000 flu related deaths in Ireland during a severe flu season. That is why those who are most vulnerable to the complications of flu need to get vaccinated. The flu vaccine is the only defence against flu, yet every year many people in the at risk groups fail to get vaccinated and put themselves at risk of serious illness or even death.”
“The symptoms of flu usually develop over a matter of a few hours, and include a high temperature, sore muscles, dry cough, headache and sore throat. Flu is different from the common cold, which tends to come on more gradually and usually includes a runny nose and a normal temperature. Flu is spread by coughing and sneezing so people should cover their nose and mouth with a tissue, disposing of the tissue as soon as possible and washing their hands with soap and water as soon as possible to help prevent the spread of flu. Anyone who gets flu should stay at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and use over-the-counter flu remedies to ease symptoms. People in high-risk categories should contact their GP if they develop flu symptoms,” said Dr. Corcoran.
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