Almost 25,000 more medical card holders in at-risk groups have received the flu vaccine this year compared to the previous flu season, according to the HSE.
Welcoming the news, Dr Brenda Corcoran, head of the HSE National Immunisation Office urged those who have not yet been vaccinated, to get the vaccine.
“Since September 1, 2016, 418,526 people in at risk groups over who hold a medical or GP visit card have been vaccinated compared with 393,892 for the same period last year, an increase of 24,634,” she said.
“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 vaccine reduces infection and associated illnesses and hospitalisation.
“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.
“The 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 flu:
· 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 long stay facilities
· Healthcare workers