One million vaccines, Covid booster and flu, delivered this winter, say public health officials
More than one million vaccines – over 500,000 each of the COVID-19 booster and flu vaccine – have been delivered this winter, according to the Public Health Agency.
But the agency is warning the respiratory illnesses, which have helped lead to overcrowding in emergency rooms and increases in admission rates to hospitals, still pose a risk.
The PHA is urging anyone eligible but who has not yet been vaccinated to make an appointment with their GPs, pharmacies or trusts.
Agency figures reveal that in the over-64 age group, 84% were given the flu vaccine. In the 50-64 age group, just over 50% decided to take the vaccine, a 10% increase on last year.
The more than one million vaccines delivered was described as "a really important milestone" by Dr Joanne McClean, PHA public health director.
Those vaccinated "have taken a positive step in helping to protect their own health and that of their friends and family, as vaccines are the most effective way to prevent infectious diseases as they teach our immune system how to recognise and fight viruses", Dr McClean said, adding that healthcare staff should be recognised for their work.
Dr McClean said: “The vaccine offer is still continuing and I would like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone in any of the eligible groups who is not yet vaccinated to get their winter vaccines now.
“With the high levels of Covid-19 and flu that we have seen in recent weeks, it is still very important to get vaccinated. I would also encourage the parents of pre-school and school-aged children to get them vaccinated against flu."
The public health director argued that evidence shows that "the flu vaccine for children can provide direct protection to them and will also reduce the amount of flu circulating".
“Getting flu and other viral infections can increase the risk of invasive Group A Strep (iGAS) infection in the following weeks," she said.
“The flu vaccine reduces the risk of having flu and group A Strep infections at the same time, therefore it reduces the chance of developing iGAS."
“The PHA strongly recommends children who are eligible get a flu vaccine – it’s the best way to protect them from serious illness.
"The flu vaccine for children has an excellent safety record and has been given to millions of children in the UK and worldwide.”
Pre-school children aged two years and over and children in primaries 1 to 7 and those in year 8 to 12 who missed getting the vaccine in school can contact their GP to enquire about getting the flu vaccine, the PHA said.