Hospital chief urges people in Limerick and Mid-West to get flu jab

Hospital chief urges people in Limerick and Mid-West to get flu jab

Prof Colette Cowan PICTURE: LIAM BURKE

THE UL Hospitals Group has been treating a number of “seriously unwell” patients who have been stricken with the flu in recent weeks. 

And though no outbreak has been announced, the hospital group’s CEO, Prof Colette Cowan is urging members of the public to avail of the flu vaccine.

The HSE has indicated that flu cases are likely to increase in the coming weeks, as the mercury is expected to drop considerably.

The vast majority of flu cases in the Mid-West were detected in Limerick, according to the HSE. Since December, there have been 39 cases in the region, 26 of which were Limerick residents.

Prof Cowan said: “Over the last month, there have been over 30 patients with influenza admitted across UL Hospitals Group, with a number of patients seriously unwell.

"The vaccine this year is a good match for the circulating strains, including H1N1, and we are encouraging members of the public to protect themselves and their loved ones by getting the vaccine. Anyone who is concerned about flu-like symptoms should contact their GP or out-of-hours service in the first instance and anyone who does present to hospital with flu-like symptoms should immediately notify our staff so that appropriate precautions can be taken.”

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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