Older people and at-risk groups have been urged to protect themselves against both flu and COVID-19 this winter by getting their vaccines.
That is the message that has been announced by the HSE today.
The programme gets underway with the roll out of the free flu vaccine to recommended groups, while those aged over 65 and all aged 12 and over with a weak immune system are invited for their next COVID-19 vaccine.
Today also marks the rollout of the adapted bivalent vaccines. Three adapted bivalent mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have been recommended for use for booster vaccination by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC), following approval by the European Medicines Agency.
COVID-19 primary and booster vaccines for people aged 12 or over are also available in the 15 vaccination centres across the country.
The Laois centre is located on the grounds of st Fintan’s Hospital in Portlaoise and details can be found here.
The HSE is also reminding anyone who has not received their primary vaccine or their booster doses, or who has had COVID-19 and has had to wait 4 months for their booster to book an appointment as soon as possible.
Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD said: “As the weather becomes cooler and the nights become darker, all of our thoughts turn to how best we can protect ourselves and our loved ones from the worst impacts of COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses that circulate at this time of year.
“I welcome today’s roll-out of the HSEs winter vaccination programme that will facilitate booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine and seasonal flu vaccines being administered at the same time in GPs and Pharmacies.
“15 Vaccination Centres across the country are also continuing to provide COVID-19 primary vaccines and 2nd and 3rd booster doses this winter.
“We know that vaccines offer good protection from both COVID-19 and seasonal flu and urge everyone eligible to avail of this opportunity as soon as possible.”
Dr Aparna Keegan, Specialist in Public Health Medicine, HSE National Immunisation Office, said: “This winter, both the flu and COVID-19 viruses are expected to circulate.
“It is very important that all those who are invited get both their free flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster vaccines.
“Flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses but both can cause serious illness. The flu vaccine does not protect against COVID-19.
“That is why it is important that if you have had a COVID-19 vaccine you should still get your free flu vaccine. Both Flu and COVID-19 vaccines will be available from participating GPs and Pharmacies and can be given at the same time.”
From October 17 the children’s flu nasal spray vaccine will also be available free for all children aged 2 to 17 years from GPs and Pharmacies.
For children aged 5 to 11 who have not had their primary COVID-19 vaccination, and for those with a weak immune system and due a booster dose, appointments are available at HSE vaccination centres by making an appointment on www.hse.ie.