Limerick public urged to take up vaccines as flu season approaches

Limerick public urged to take up vaccines after flu season approaches

THE UL Hospitals Group is encouraging members of the public to get the flu jab, after developing its seasonal flu vaccination plan for its thousands of staff.

Hospitals, pharmacies and GP clinics nationwide have received their annual stock of vaccines, as flu season approaches.

And though no flu outbreak has occurred, visitor restrictions at University Hospital Limerick remain in place since last season’s outbreak in January.

These restrictions are also compounded by the latest outbreak of the CPE superbug at UHL, where a total of 24 have been detected with the multi-drug resistant bug.

Speaking on the UL Hospitals Group’s action plan for the imminent flu season, a spokesperson said it is being overseen by a steering committee of staff from multiple disciplines and departments.

“Vaccination clinics will be offered by colleagues in Occupational Health and by volunteer Peer Vaccinators who will vaccinate colleagues within the Group. Vaccination clinics will commence in the first week of October and will continue until December.

“As well as seeking to maximise the uptake among staff through enhanced access to the vaccine, UL Hospitals Group will be working with colleagues in the Department of Public Health, HSE Mid West Community Healthcare and the HSE nationally to promote the flu vaccine among the general public.”

The spokesperson said flu-like symptoms are “very general in nature” and it is not unusual for patients to present to UHL on a regular basis.

UL Hospitals Group is urging those in at-risk group to get vaccinated against influenza this year. Those most vulnerable to complications arising from flu include the over-65s; patients with certain chronic illnesses; pregnant women and residents of nursing homes and other long-stay facilities. The vaccine is made available free of charge by the HSE to patients in these categories.

The spokesperson said that it is currently developing its winter initiative plan and are looking “to finalise plans as quickly as possible to ensure preparedness for winter”.

“One of the ongoing challenges during the winter period, due to flus and other serious illnesses, is the demand for critical care beds.  We are currently in the process of training HDU/ICU staff to open two additional beds for the winter period. Eleven staff have been trained to date. The first bed opened in August with the second bed to open at the end of September once the remaining staff are fully trained,” she added. UHL was the most overcrowded hospital in the country last month, with 894 patients treated on trolleys.

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