THE HSE has urged Limerick people in at-risk groups for the flu to get vaccinated, as the number of cases are expected to increase in the coming weeks.
This time last year, there was a strong flu strain, forcing hospital facilities to impose strict visiting restrictions which remained in place ever since.
But it is understood that the number of cases has not been as widespread as previous years.
Since December 1 last, there have been 39 confirmed cases in the Mid-West, and 26 of these detections were resident in Limerick.
However, while no outbreak has been reported to-date, the HSE has told the Limerick Leader that it expects “the number of flu cases in the Mid-West would increase in the coming weeks” as the mercury starts to drop.
Limerick-based Dr Kevin Kelleher, the assistant national director in health protection, said that flu levels are likely to increase over the coming weeks when the flu begins to actively circulate in the community.
“Flu is now beginning to circulate, and as schools reopen and people return to work we are likely to see increased levels. The predominant strain currently circulating is H1N1, which is affecting younger age groups more than strains that have circulated in previous years. This year’s vaccine is a good match for circulating strains and it is not too late to get the vaccine.”
“While most people will get better themselves from flu, anyone who is concerned about their condition should telephone their GP or an out of hours medical service so they can arrange to be treated in a way that does not put others at risk,” he explained.
A spokesperson for the HSE said that the best way to protect yourself is to get the flu vaccine.
“This year’s vaccine is a good match for the strains of flu that are circulating and it is not too late to be vaccinated.”
Those in at-risk groups include people aged 65 and old, pregnant women and people with chronic diseases. All healthcare workers are encouraged to also be vaccinated.
For information and tips on dealing with and preventing the transmission of flu visit the HSE website www.undertheweather.ie
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