Over a million Irish people have been vaccinated against the flu in 2020, a record high, according to Dr Colm Henry, chief clinical officer of the HSE.
"This has been a year of extraordinary success... over 60% of over-65 year-olds have been administered with the vaccine. We passed the one millionth record administration and that includes over 140,000 children. We are seeing an increase in uptake/administration of 20% compared to last year." The remaining 50,000 vaccines have now been distributed, and, speaking at Thursday's HSE briefing, Dr Henry said there is between 20,000-30,000 left in stock which will be sent out based on individual applications made by primary care providers.
"We purchased 600,000 [nasal flu vaccines for children under 12]... there is a lag time between the vaccines being administered and us getting records back, but it seems like 1 in 4 of those are being administered."
He added that the HSE was looking at ways of communicating to parents to encourage them to get their child vaccinated.
In relation to the Covid vaccine, Dr Henry said no vaccine has been licensed yet and it was important to remember that we will continue to live with the virus into the foreseeable future. "There is huge hope from the developments of these phase three trials... but of course the licensing agencies have to license these vaccines for use, under emergency use authorisation with the FDA in the USA and here under a similar process.
"It appears [the vaccine is safe and effective] from the releases coming from the drug companies, from as of yet not fully completed phase three trials."
Dr Henry also said for the vaccine to be effective, it has to prevent disease in 60% to 80% of the population. "The early figures from those phases of the trials are good, but of course, it more depends on uptake and successful uptake... there's a lot of work ahead of us."