Minister commits to out of hours flu vaccine clinics

The Minister for Health has confirmed he will ensure out of hours flu vaccination clinics are provided in the coming weeks to facilitate access for school children and working families.

The Minister was responding to a request by Denis Naughten TD, who had pointed out “not only must the vaccine be made available to as many people as possible, but it is also imperative that schoolchildren and families can obtain a flu vaccination at a time that is convenient for them, in a socially distant manner”.

Deputy Naughten told a briefing of party and group leaders with the Taoiseach, HSE Chief Paul Reid, Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn and the Health Minister: “The only way our health service can manage a surge in Covid-19 infection this winter is if we can rule out the possibility that the patient has flu, as the symptoms are so similar. This can only be achieved by a population-wide vaccination programme against the flu virus and the public must be actively encouraged to have the flu jab, and children the flu drops.”

In response the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD said that out of hours vaccination clinics will be provided to facilitate the highest possible uptake of the flu vaccine this winter.

Commenting on the Minister’s response Denis Naughten said: “If people go to the effort of protecting themselves, our older people and our health service by availing of the vaccine, the last thing we need is to have them put on a waiting list because they can only avail of it 9-5 Monday to Friday.

“We were lucky that when Covid-19 struck in March we were pretty much out of the flu season, but that will not be the case if we have another surge in Coronavirus infection this autumn.

“After such heroic efforts by every citizen in the State to stop the spread of the virus earlier this year we cannot allow a further wave of infection to cause chaos in our hospitals this winter under any circumstances,” concluded Denis Naughten.

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