This week the Community Health Organisation (CHO) Area1 Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan & Sligo) Flu Vaccine Campaign was launched by Tommie Gorman, RTÉs Northern Editor. The launch took place in An Clochar, Health Campus, Ballyshannon and was attended by HSE staff and representatives from various agencies associated with the HSE.
Launching the campaign Tommie stated ‘For several years the Flu Vaccine service has helped to keep people like me alive and healthy. I have what’s described as a chronic illness and I am one of the many people who are strongly advised to get the Flu Vaccine jab. So for obvious reasons I am delighted to be involved in the launch of this energetic campaign in our region. Seeing is believing - at the launch, here in Ballyshannon, I’m availing of the opportunity to get my injection.”
Flu can be a very serious and sometimes deadly disease, with potentially 1,000 flu related deaths in Ireland during a severe flu season. Flu is very infectious and can cause potentially serious illnesses especially for older people, those who have a chronic illness, those with weakened immune systems and pregnant women. Seasonal flu vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy and also protects the baby. The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu as it does not contain any live flu virus and all those at risk should get vaccinated as soon as possible this year to make sure that they are protected.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
· Pregnant women
· Residents of nursing homes and other residential care services
· Healthcare workers
The HSE provides the flu vaccine free of charge for all those in the at-risk groups.
The vaccine and consultation are free for those with a Medical Card or GP Visit Card. Those without 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 those under 18 years should attend their GP.
Denise Curran, HSE General Manager Donegal Community Services, Frank Morrison, HSE
General Manager Sligo/Leitrim Community Services, John Hayes, Chief Officer, CHO1
receiving the flu vaccine from Niamh Finlay, HSE Sligo/Leitrim Occupational Health
John Hayes. Chief Officer, CHO1 stated “This is the first year we have had a CHO1 wide flu vaccine campaign and I would like to take this opportunity today to highlight the importance of increasing the uptake of the flu vaccine among the at risk groups and among my colleagues in CHO1. The flu vaccine is a safe, effective way to help prevent flu infection, avoid hospitalisation and reduce flu related deaths and illnesses. Therefore I urge all those in the at risk groups to avail of the flu vaccine”.
Dr Louise Doherty, Specialist in Public Health Medicine, spoke at the launch stating “It is important that all those working in frontline healthcare including doctors, nurses, therapists and carers protect themselves from getting the flu and also to prevent spreading the flu to vulnerable patients. Older and at risk patients may not get sufficient protection from the vaccine themselves, so people who care for them need to be vaccinated. The flu vaccine is available free to healthcare workers from their local Occupational Health Department and in their workplace from nurse peer vaccinators.” Cara ONeill, CHO 1 Head of Health and Wellbeing, John Hayes, Chief Officer, CHO1,
Martina Harkin - Kelly, President of the INMO, Dr Louise Doherty, Specialist in Public
Health Medicine, Shona Gallagher, CHO1 Flu Project lead, Tommie Gorman RTÉ Northern Editor
Cara O’ Neill, CHO 1 Head of Health and Wellbeing spoke at the launch and described the background to what she hopes will be a very successful campaign. Cara said, “It has been a real team effort, with all services participating in the design and development of the campaign materials.” The core message is “Protection against, flu is everyone’s responsibility. Please protect yourself, your loved ones and those around you by getting the flu vaccine.”
Delegates at the launch were entertained by the Markievicz Minstrels, a choir consisting of HSE Sligo/Leitrim staff who sang a song especially for the occasion about the importance of getting the flu vaccine. A series of posters and fliers were unveiled targeting the at risk groups and conveying the message to get vaccinated. These posters will be displayed in HSE facilities throughout CHO1. The HSE’s Occupational Health Service also provided a clinic at the launch where those attending could avail of the vaccine.