PHA reminds people of importance of flu vaccine

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The Public Health Agency (PHA) is again reminding people in “at risk” groups and others who are eligible, to get the winter flu vaccine, with a warning about the deadly dangers associated with catching the flu.

As in previous years, influenza H1N1 (often known as “swine flu”) is one of the strains of flu circulating this flu season, but it is covered by the free vaccine which is being offered.

A PHA spokesperson said: “Every year, during the winter period, several strains of seasonal influenza virus circulate in the community. In 2009, a new flu virus emerged called influenza H1N1, which at the time was also known as “swine flu”. Since 2009, influenza H1N1 virus has become one of the common seasonal influenza viruses in circulation in Northern Ireland, the UK and around the world.

“Protection against influenza H1N1 is contained within the seasonal flu vaccine that is offered free to over-65s, pre-school children aged between two and four years old, all primary school-aged children and individuals in “at risk” groups, such as pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions like asthma or heart conditions.

“The Public Health Agency encourages anyone in these groups who has not yet received their vaccination to contact their GP to arrange an appointment.”

Most recent statistics indicate that in the week ending 31 January 2016, there were 31.7 per 100,000 people accessing primary care with flu-like illness. This is still substantially below the threshold that indicates the start of significant influenza circulation in the community (measured at 49.4 per 100,000 population).

For further information on flu, see