People are being urged to avail of the flu vaccine as soon as possible, as early vaccination will provide the best protection to individuals and the wider community.
According to the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), it has been shown that the most effective time to get the flu vaccine is before the illness starts spreading in your community.
The flu season in Ireland runs from October to March/April and the 2019/20 seasonal flu vaccine is now available nationwide.
"Influenza is a highly-infectious illness that can result in a very serious infection. Tragically, last year 74 people in Ireland died as a result of flu. Early vaccination is highly recommended, particularly for those in at-risk groups," commented IPU vice-president, Eoghan Hanly.
He also reminded people that flu vaccination is required every year because the flu viruses that circulate change every year. The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the four strains of the flu virus that are most likely to be circulating this season, as recommended by the World Health Organization.
"Each flu is different and therefore, unlike many vaccines which can provide lifelong protection, a flu vaccine is required annually. If you received a vaccine last year, there is no guarantee that you are protected from the strains of the virus that will hit Ireland during this year's flu season," Mr Hanly explained.
All at-risk groups are advised to get vaccinated. These include people over the age of 65, pregnant women, healthcare workers, and adults and children with chronic conditions that require regular follow-up, such as diabetes, heart disease, renal disease and moderate or severe asthma.
The flu vaccine is free of charge to people in at-risk groups, however you may be charged a consultation fee by your GP or pharmacist unless you have a medical card or a GP visit card.
For more information on the flu vaccine, click here.