‘Still time to get flu vaccine’ – PHA

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Friday, February 8th, 2019

The Public Health Agency (PHA) is urging all remaining eligible people whose health could be seriously affected by flu to get the free flu vaccine.

GPs across Northern Ireland are offering flu vaccination to everyone over 65, people under 65 with underlying health conditions, pregnant women, and children aged 2-4 years of age.



Dr Jillian Johnston, Consultant in Health Protection at the PHA, said, “Flu is now circulating in Northern Ireland as expected and, while the levels remain low, it is likely to increase over the next couple of months.

“Our data show that there are several flu strains now circulating which can affect all age groups, with the main one particularly affecting people aged under 65.

“Last year’s flu season, when flu activity was the highest seen since the 2009 pandemic, is a reminder that flu can be serious, especially in individuals with underlying health conditions and older age groups.



“This year, we are seeing a higher proportion of flu cases among people aged under 65 with an underlying health condition in intensive care/ high dependency units (ICU/HDU) who could have got the vaccine.

She continued, “It is therefore important that all those eligible for vaccination make arrangements with their GP surgery to get it if they haven’t already.

“To facilitate the introduction of new vaccination arrangements, elements of this year’s flu vaccination programme were phased-in, and thanks to good planning by GP surgeries and patience among people aged 65 and over in particular, we have seen uptake in over-65s surpass the rate among under-65s with a health condition.



“We are therefore particularly urging people under the age of 65 with an underlying health condition such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes to get vaccinated.”

Dr Johnston continued, “Flu can be a very unpleasant illness, and in some cases, very dangerous. People with health conditions, older people and pregnant women should get the vaccine now to help protect their health and the health of others around them.

“Last year we saw an increase in flu circulation, so it is important that we don’t get complacent.

“Winter pressures have a major impact on our health service, but by getting vaccinated against flu, we can play our part in reducing the burden and helping to protect our own health too,” she added.



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