Monday 27 January 2020

'Not too late to get vaccinated' as HSE warns flu season to last five more weeks

Minister for Health Simon Harris TD & Anne O Connor CCO HSE during a winter briefing from the HSE at The Dargan Building, Military Road, Dublin. Gareth Chaney/Collins
Minister for Health Simon Harris TD & Anne O Connor CCO HSE during a winter briefing from the HSE at The Dargan Building, Military Road, Dublin. Gareth Chaney/Collins
Aoife Walsh

Aoife Walsh

The flu outbreak which has claimed the lives of more than 20 people is expected to continue for another five weeks, the HSE has warned.

The current flu season, which arrived 3-4 weeks early this year, has lead to the death of 22 people to date, 17 of those aged 65 years and older.

Forty-five patients presenting with influenza A have been admitted to intensive care as of yesterday.

Dr Vida Hamilton said the flu season is expected to last another five weeks, adding that it is “not too late” get the seasonal flu vaccine.

“The vaccine is an extremely good match this year and despite us being in the midst of a very busy flu season it’s not too late to vaccinate,” she said.

“We anticipate there are approximately five more weeks of flu season left.”

Dr Vida Hamilton National Clinical Advisor Acute Hospitals HSE during a media briefing outlining details of the HSE Winter Plan 2018/19 at Dr SteevenÄôs Hospital, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Dr Vida Hamilton National Clinical Advisor Acute Hospitals HSE during a media briefing outlining details of the HSE Winter Plan 2018/19 at Dr SteevenÄôs Hospital, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Admissions to Emergency Departments (EDs) have reduced in comparison to last week, but are still significantly higher than last year.

Highest hospitalisation rates have been found with children under five and adults 65 and over.

Latest figures from the HSE revealed that 404 patients were on trolleys in Emergency Departments (EDs) around the country as of yesterday morning, with 52 pc requiring isolation.

Speaking at today's briefing, Health Minister Simon Harris defended the health service when asked about figures from the Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation’s (INMO) end-of-year analysis, which showed that 118,367 people waited on trolleys in 2019.

Mr Harris said the figures reflect a busier period for the HSE and that a recruitment plan that aims to hire 1,000 additional staff is in place for 2020.

“It’s no doubt that 2019 was a very challenging year.

“From the middle of summer onwards, we did see high trolley numbers. It is important to compare like with like.

“I do feel when people just report one metric it is ignoring a couple of other realities.”

He added: “We have an ambitious recruitment plan for 2020 that positively favours primary care because we’re determined to deliver Slaintecare.

“There’s funding in place now to hire 1,000 additional staff to work in our community care by the end of 2020.

“What the HSE can’t do, and what no public service can do, is just willy-nilly hire whoever they want.

“They have to obviously be responsive to government policy and to funding levels in place.”

Mr Harris said 199 beds are expected to open by the end of this month, with 51 due to open this Monday.

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