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Health workers should get the flu vaccination, warns Varadkar

   

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar adressing media at a Government Covid-19 Press Briefing at Government Buildings. Pic Steve Humphreys

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar adressing media at a Government Covid-19 Press Briefing at Government Buildings. Pic Steve Humphreys

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar adressing media at a Government Covid-19 Press Briefing at Government Buildings. Pic Steve Humphreys

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has warned the low take-up of the flu vaccine among health workers is "not on" and "has to change".

It comes amid fears that there could be a second wave of coronavirus outbreaks during the winter flu season.

Mr Varadkar said such a scenario would be "very difficult" and the Government is stepping up the annual flu vaccine programme as a result, including expanding free vaccination for children.

He also said efforts are being made to get health workers to be vaccinated.

He told 2fm's 'Breakfast with Doireann and Eoghan' radio show that "people who work in healthcare are amazing people".

But he added: "Less than half of them got the flu vaccine last year. That's not on. That has to change."

The Taoiseach confirmed personal protective equipment (PPE) is also being stockpiled for the possibility of a second wave.

"We haven't seen anything like this in recent memory so from day one we've been trying to work out what can we learn from this so that if we have another pandemic, maybe a different virus, or if we have a second wave, that we're better prepared," he said of the crisis.

He added the current outbreak is "not over yet" and the Government wants Ireland to get to a situation that sees the number of new cases at zero or close to zero, with a system in place to identify spikes in the disease and "jump on those outbreaks very quickly".

He added: "We don't want to have to lock down the country all over again. There may be re-occurrence in some places but we want to be able to deal with them in that place rather than having to close down the whole country again."

Mr Varadkar said the message to the public is to keep up social distancing, washing hands and avoiding unnecessary journeys.

Irish Independent