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Chemists deliver 32,000 flu jabs as demand soars

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NEEDLE phobia is preventing many health staff in nursing homes from getting the flu vaccine

NEEDLE phobia is preventing many health staff in nursing homes from getting the flu vaccine

NEEDLE phobia is preventing many health staff in nursing homes from getting the flu vaccine

Pharmacists have delivered more than 32,000 flu jabs over the past six weeks.

A total of 18pc of those who received the flu vaccine from their pharmacist had never had it before, even though 93pc of them were in the target "at-risk" groups.

The figures were released by the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) to coincide with a meeting with Health Minister Leo Varadkar, as pharmacists called for an expanded role in healthcare delivery.

"The flu vaccination service delivered by community pharmacies is an example of an efficient, cost-effective and extremely valuable resource in healthcare delivery," said IPU president Kathy Maher.

"We are calling on Minister Varadkar to expand this service to include vaccinations against other serious infections such as pneumococcus and shingles.

"Pneumococcal pneumonia remains a significant cause of severe illness requiring hospitalisation, particularly among elderly people or those who have underlying illnesses.

"As pharmacists are already successfully vaccinating against flu, it makes sense that we should also vaccinate against pneumococcal pneumonia, since the 'at-risk' groups for both are similar.

"It has been widely acknowledged that Irish GPs are overworked.

overburdened

"We outlined to the minister ways to improve public access to treatments for common ailments without an appointment in their local pharmacy.

"This would help to free-up other areas of the health service, which are overburdened, such as accident and emergency and GP services, allowing GPs and hospitals to focus on the people who really need their expert attention."

Meanwhile, figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) show that all indicators of flu activity in Ireland have been at low levels so far.

Statistics show that in the week ending October 26, the rates of influenza-like illness remained at low levels in all age groups.

The influenza season begins in October and continues through to May and outbreaks, if they occur, tend to last six to eight weeks.

Almost 598,000 doses of the flu vaccine were secured for Ireland. Our national demand is for 530,000 doses.

This year's flu vaccine protects against the three common flu virus strains which are expected to be circulating this year.

fdillon@herald.ie


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