Uptake of swine flu vaccine just 50pc in schools
Only half the pupils offered the swine flu vaccine in some schools have received the jab, it was confirmed yesterday.
The HSE is gradually rolling out the vaccine to schools and it will be offered eventually to all of the 850,000 pupils in the school system.
So far the response has been disappointing in several schools where HSE doctors and nurses have arrived to give the jab, and overall just 46,000 schoolkids have been vaccinated.
The vaccination of children in schools began in December but it had been interrupted by the Christmas holidays and closures due to bad weather.
A spokeswoman for the HSE said yesterday that the take up rate for the vaccine in schools varied but it was around 50pc .
"However there would be some overlap with other phases of the vaccination campaign -- some children would already have received the vaccine at a HSE clinic or through their GP if they were in an at-risk group," said the spokeswoman.
Children are at the highest risk of contracting the flu and health authorities fear that complacency has set in as the numbers struck by the virus have fallen dramatically compared to the worst weeks of November.
The spokesman said figures to date showed that 700,000 of the population had been vaccinated, including:
- 250,000 through GPs -- this may be higher.
- 356,000 in HSE clinics
- 46,000 in schools
- 45,000 health-care workers
The HSE said more than 100,000 people in the five-to-19 age group had been vaccinated so far through the schools campaign, HSE vaccination clinics and GPs, which represented about 11.5pc of this age group.
While the levels affected by the virus have fallen, a second wave could not be ruled out.
"We would encourage all those in the identified groups. . . to get the vaccine as the more people that receive the vaccine the less likely we are to see a potential second wave of the virus," said the HSE spokeswoman.
She cautioned that young people were among those most affected by swine flu, and said that HSE teams would continue to offer the vaccine.
The HSE will release figures today to indicate if the recent rise in cases is continuing.
The numbers catching swine flu rose slightly to 1,781 compared to 919 the previous week, according to the Department of Health. There have been no deaths for several weeks and the toll stands at 22.