Health Minister outlines winter plans to manage Covid-19 as flu vaccine delayed

ireland
Health Minister Outlines Winter Plans To Manage Covid-19 As Flu Vaccine Delayed Health Minister Outlines Winter Plans To Manage Covid-19 As Flu Vaccine Delayed
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Digital Desk staff

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has today announced measures designed to manage the spread of Covid-19 throughout the winter, along with the news that there will be a short delay in the delivery of one flu vaccine.

Measures to manage the virus in winter will include an expanded flu vaccination programme, along with the extension of GP special payments to ensure Covid-19 consultations and testing remains free of charge to everyone.

It comes as an administrative delay from one flu vaccine’s manufacturer is expected to take about two weeks and is affecting customers worldwide.

Doses for Ireland are set to be among the first batch of the vaccine released, with the Department of Health saying that the flu vaccine for at-risk groups will be available at its normal time from the end of September.

The health service is entering a challenging winter period, in the midst of a global pandemic.

Minister Donnelly said the winter would be a time requiring collective effort: “The health service is entering a challenging winter period, in the midst of a global pandemic. It’s important that we make every effort collectively to limit the impact on the health service over the coming months.”

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Plans to reduce stress on the country’s healthcare service during the winter include an expanded flu vaccination programme set to roll out in the autumn, with all at-risk groups – including healthcare workers – having free access to the vaccination.

Vaccines for children aged from two to 12 years old will also be administered free of charge from the end of October in the form of nasal drops rather than injection, and are unaffected by the other vaccine delay as they are arriving from a different manufacturer.

The expanded programme hopes to prevent spikes of Covid-19 and the flu occurring at the same time.

“Protecting the most vulnerable people in our society means that everyone who can get the flu vaccine should get it, and we are starting by making it accessible without charge to all in the at-risk groups,” Minister Donnelly said.

Free testing

An additional plank of the Government’s winter plan involves the continuation of free Covid-19 consultations and testing, with GPs able to offer the services without charge with the extension of GP special payments.

“We know that early detection of Covid-19 cases is key in suppressing the disease in the community, even more so coming into winter, and so I’m glad this support will allow GPs to continue providing Covid-19 consultations free to their patients,” Minister Donnelly said.

“It’s very important that cost is not a barrier to anyone seeking testing, so I want to be clear that your telephone consultation with your GP to decide if you should be tested is free. The Covid-19 test as well as any hospital treatment you may need will also be free.”

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