Over 50s and health care staff can get flu jab from NI pharmacies

Community pharmacies across Portadown, Craigavon and Lurgan will be offering a free flu vaccination this year.

Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 3:48 pm

Officially launched by the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Sir Michael McBride, and Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Cathy Harrison, the vaccine is available for all adults over 50 and all health and social care workers.

The programme is being expanded to help protect the most vulnerable people in our society and to relieve the winter pressures being faced by the health service during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor McBride, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to place significant demands and pressures on our Health Service and we expect that there will be circulation of both flu and COVID-19 this winter, which will inevitably add further pressures on our already fragile health care system.

Pharmacist Gerry Watters, Professor Sir Michael McBride, Mrs Cathy Harrison and Gerard Greene, Chief Executive Community Pharmacy NI.

“As a result of the low flu activity last winter we expect reduced levels of population immunity against the virus this winter. In the situation where social mixing and social contact return towards pre-pandemic norms, it is expected that this winter will be the first winter in the UK when seasonal flu and other respiratory viruses such as RSV in children will circulate alongside COVID-19.

“Modelling indicates the 2021/22 flu season in the UK could be up to 50% larger than typically seen and it is also possible that the 2021 to 2022 influenza season will begin earlier than usual.”

Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy NI, Gerard Greene, said: “Community pharmacies across Northern Ireland welcome the expansion of the Community Pharmacy flu vaccination service, it gives the public the option of getting their flu vaccine at a convenient, accessible location with a local pharmacist they know and trust.

“The threat of COVID-19 has made the need for vaccines even more crucial, and we strongly advise all those eligible to contact their local pharmacy team and get your winter flu vaccine. It is not just your health you protect when you are vaccinated, it is those most vulnerable in our society and the health service that is already under huge strain.”

Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Mrs Cathy Harrison, said: “Community pharmacists are highly trained healthcare professionals and have continued to play a pivotal role delivering health services to communities in Northern Ireland during the pandemic.”

Details of your nearest participating pharmacy can be found online www.healthandcareni.net/pharmacy_rota/Flu_Vaccinations.html

The public are reminded to be patient with pharmacy staff as they work to set up clinics over coming days.

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