Minster urges flu vaccine uptake as winter-ready campaign launched

Older people are being encouraged to get the flu vaccine as the Government launches its winter-ready campaign providing practical advice for households to get through the cold months ahead.

Six ministers launched the campaign, calling on people to stay safe on the roads, to look after their health, and to protect against sickness during the winter months.

Health Minister Simon Harris said: “I would like to take this opportunity to again encourage all those in at-risk groups to get the flu vaccine now, as it can take up to two weeks to take effect. The vaccine reduces the risk of influenza as well as reducing hospitalisation and mortality in older people.

“I am also pleased to see the revised ‘Be Winter Ready’ leaflet and booklet which include additional advice for older people and people with disabilities on keeping well and warm, staying safe in cold and icy conditions and on preventing falls.”

Government officials, the army, emergency services, and the OPW, among others, met yesterday as part of a special taskforce to agree procedures for the winter.

An information booklet was also released and households are encouraged to log on to winterready.ie for more details about safety, flu vaccines, and emergency contact numbers.

In an update, Transport Minister Shane Ross confirmed the country has almost 212,000 tonnes of rock salt to prepare the roads for ice conditions.

Mr Ross was also quizzed by reporters about the ongoing rail workers’ strike action. He again refused to intervene, despite concerns the stoppages will likely hit communities as the winter weather gets worse.

“I’m not going to do anything during the strike that would be interpreted as an intervention in the process which is going on which hopefully will come to a conclusion very, very shortly,” he said.

Mr Ross said he was hopeful Irish Rail and unions will take up the option of going to the Labour Court. Further stoppages are being planned for November 24 and 23, and December 8.

Mr Harris also said there were concerns about staff in hospitals not taking up the flu vaccine. Fatality rates and hospitalisation fell significantly in other countries when people take the flu vaccine, he said.

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