Get flu jab early this year - pharmacists
People in at-risk groups have been advised to get the flu jab early this year amid fears high levels of the virus may circulate this winter.
The warning by pharmacists follows reports that the Australian winter - which coincides with our summer - was particularly bad for flu levels.
There was particular concern about a strain which can affect the elderly.
It is still uncertain if the same pattern of flu activity will affect this part of the world and it may emerge that another strain is dominant in the coming months.
The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) said more people were choosing to have the vaccine at their local chemist.
Last year, 78,935 people were vaccinated at a pharmacy, an increase of 26pc on the year before. The vaccine is also available from GPs.
Daragh Connolly, president of the IPU, said: "Flu is an extremely contagious respiratory illness. It can lead to serious illness, even death.
"We are strongly advising everyone, but particularly those at risk, to get the vaccine early this year.
"The more people who get vaccinated, the less flu can spread around the community."
Pharmacists are the most accessible healthcare professionals and, consequently, there are approximately 1.5 million weekly visits to pharmacies, he said.