A reminder has been issued by the Public Health Agency (PHA) for all people in “at risk” groups to get the winter flu vaccine, with a warning about the deadly dangers associated with catching the flu. The call comes as figures show that excess winter deaths last year were the highest since 2009/10, when the swine flu pandemic was at its peak.
The uptake of the flu vaccine among these groups, which is made up of pregnant women and those with underlying health conditions such as asthma, is down on the same period last year. Just 40.5% of at risk people under 65 have received the vaccine, which is recommended to be administered before early December for greatest effectiveness against the flu strains.
Figures from the Northern Ireland Research and Statistics Agency show that in 2014/15 there were 870 excess winter deaths in Northern Ireland, the highest number since 2009/10.
The greatest single cause of death in this group (330) was respiratory illness, such as influenza and pneumonia.
For more info on the flu vaccine, visit www.fluawareni.info and check out the PHA’s ‘Flu is more serious than you think’ leaflet at www.bit.ly/fluleaflet