Flu vaccine should be free for all

14 October 2021

Marking EU Flu Day, Labour health spokesperson Duncan Smith TD, has called on the Government to provide the flu injection to all for free.

Deputy Smith said:

“If the Government are serious about helping stop the spread of the flu while tackling rising COVID-19 cases this winter they should make the flu vaccine free for all citizens.

“The Government cannot hide behind the excuse that cost is a barrier here, as we all know there has been an underspend of over €800 million in the Department of Health this year.

“I believe the Government’s decision to not offer the flu vaccine to all citizens for free is doing a disservice to our people, particularly our frontline workers, while we are in the middle of the global Covid-19 pandemic, which will still be an issue during flu season.

“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 in the past by the flu.

“The Labour Party has been calling for the flu injection to be made available to all for free since 2019 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.

“It’s not too late for the Minister to go beyond the steps he has already taken in making the vaccine available for free for primary school students and at-risk citizens and just extend the vaccine to all for free. It’s the right thing to do.”

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