As winter sets in, health experts are sounding the alarm about the potential rise in winter viruses and urging the public to prioritize getting vaccinated. The uptake of vaccines, particularly for flu and COVID-19, remains low, which is causing concerns among medical professionals.
Dr Éamonn O’Moore, Director of National Health Protection at HSE, expressed his worry about the low vaccine uptake and its potential impact on public health. He emphasized the importance of vaccination for individuals with long-term health conditions and healthcare workers. Despite the stable COVID-19 levels at the moment, there is a significant number of individuals seriously ill with COVID-19 who have not received boosters in the last six months.
The southern hemisphere experienced high levels of flu during the winter season, adding to the concern about the upcoming months in Ireland. Already, hospitals are feeling the pressure from a significant level of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), particularly in pediatric services.
While there is still time to get vaccinated, it’s crucial to note that vaccines take around two weeks to take effect. Dr O’Moore urged everyone eligible, including healthcare workers, to avail themselves of the winter vaccines. Dr Lucy Jessop, HSE National Immunisation Lead, emphasized the expected rise in respiratory illnesses and expressed disappointment over the low vaccine uptake figures.
It is alarming that only 11.5 percent of HSE employed healthcare workers have received the COVID-19 autumn booster vaccine, while just under a quarter have been vaccinated against the flu. In light of this, Dr Jessop urged all eligible individuals, including older people, carers, and vulnerable groups, to book their appointments for both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines.
1. Why is the low uptake of winter vaccines a concern?
The low uptake of winter vaccines, such as flu and COVID-19 vaccines, raises concerns about the potential impact on public health. Without sufficient vaccination coverage, there is a higher risk of virus transmission and more individuals falling seriously ill.
2. Who are advised to prioritize vaccination?
Individuals with long-term health conditions and healthcare workers are strongly advised to prioritize vaccination against flu and COVID-19. These groups are more vulnerable to severe illness and play a crucial role in maintaining healthcare services.
3. Is there still time to get vaccinated?
Yes, there is still time to get vaccinated. However, it’s important to remember that vaccines take around two weeks to take effect. It is recommended to get vaccinated as soon as possible to ensure maximum protection, especially as flu levels are rising and the winter months typically see a surge in respiratory illnesses.
– HSE (https://www.hse.ie/eng/)