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Free winter flu vaccine programme extended

Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew has announced that the seasonal influenza immunisation programme will be extended to the end of August.

“The vaccine was due to be funded until 31 July, but our surveillance shows that winter flu cases are rising and have not yet peaked,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“As the peak is still to come hospitals are likely to see more people with the illness, so it is worthwhile to extend the funded vaccination season.”

This winter A-H1N1 appears to be the most common strain of influenza. This strain affects adults and young children more severely than other strains.

“The good news is that the A-H1N1 strain is covered by the flu vaccine, so it is yet another reason to get immunised if you haven’t already,” Mrs Goodhew.

“To date, almost 1.19 million flu vaccines have been distributed across the country, protecting over a quarter of our population.

“Immunisation is something simple we can all do to protect ourselves and our families from a common, but serious winter illness.”

The seasonal influenza immunisation programme is free for people aged 65 years and over, pregnant women, people with long term health conditions such as severe asthma, and children under five years who have been hospitalised for a respiratory illness.

For everyone else aged 6 months or older, the vaccine is available for a small charge either from their general practice or local pharmacies offering vaccinations.

For those who are already unwell, it is important to seek advice early from your doctor, nurse or Healthline (0800 611 116).

Media contact: Angela Kenealy 021 220 0129

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