Time to make flu jab free for all

05 May 2020

Labour Party Leader and Health spokesperson, Alan Kelly TD, has repeated his call for the Government to provide the winter flu vaccine for free to all citizens this year.

Deputy Kelly said:

“If the Government are serious about helping stop the spread of the flu this winter they should make the flu vaccine free for all citizens.

“Over the weekend, the Taoiseach said we needed to be more ambitious in how we tackle the winter flu this year and this morning the Minister for Health is said to be in talks with the Department of Public Expenditure about funding the vaccine for children of school-going age.

“It’s not enough to just provide this vaccine free of charge to children and those in at-risk groups, this year of all years we must provide it to all citizens for free if we want to try minimise the damage on our Emergency Departments created every year by the flu.

“I have been calling for the flu injection to be made available to all for free since last year as a way to help ease the pressure on other parts of our health system.

“We all know the pressure that the winter flu puts on our Emergency Departments and our ICUs. We cannot afford to have both the winter flu and Covid-19 rampant in our ICUs this November and December.

“I know from speaking to medical experts that the more people who receive the flu vaccine mean that we are less likely to see patients with the flu on specialist beds such as ICU beds, as well as regular in-patient facilities.

“Extending the flu vaccine to all for free could be the layer of protection needed for slowing the spread of the flu this year and could also free up our hospitals somewhat during the usually busy winter time.

“If the Government is serious about reducing mayhem in our hospitals in the coming months, then they must take calls to extend the flu vaccine beyond the at-risk groups seriously. The medical evidence is clear, people who have been vaccinated and then get sick from a different flu strand are significantly less likely to be hospitalised.”

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