Tuesday 16 July 2019

Two hospitalised with flu amid fears of an epidemic

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Stock photo
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Two people have already been hospitalised with flu this month and two outbreaks have occurred in residential facilities.

One of the patients hospitalised was found to have the A(H3N2) strain which led to Australia recently having one of its worst winters for flu in years.

It follows recent revelations in the Irish Independent that this year's flu vaccine is just 40pc to 60pc effective.

The fear is that it will be least effective in older people who are most at risk from A(H3N2) because of their weakened immune response to the vaccine.

Flu levels remain low but the HSE yesterday again called on at-risk groups to get the vaccine because it is the best protection available from the virus.

At-risk groups include people with long-term disease, the elderly, pregnant women, and patients who are undergoing cancer treatment.

Meanwhile, the Government has agreed to fund new cancer drugs Erivedge and Gazyvaro, made by Roche, which are used to treat skin cancer and lymphoma.

A spokeswoman for Roche said a price for Erivedge was agreed in October 2016 but Irish patients were forced to endure a further 13-month wait, making them the last in Western Europe to be given public access to the medicine.

"Roche calls on Minister for Health Simon Harris to clarify what actions he will take to ensure that Irish patients have the same access to new medicines as patients elsewhere in Western Europe and outline how this goal will be achieved before the end of 2018," she said. "The time for change is now."

Irish Independent

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