Dr Lois O’Connor, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, HSE Public Health Area A, said: “The surge of respiratory illnesses in the community is putting significant pressure on our health services across the region. We can reduce this burden by staying at home from work, school and crèche if you are sick, and getting your flu and COVID-19 vaccines.”
“We are seeing very high levels of respiratory viruses including flu, COVID-19 and RSV. If you have respiratory symptoms please stay at home. As schools and childcare facilities reopen this week we also ask parents and guardians to keep their children home from school/crèche if they are sick.”
“It’s not too late for people to get the flu vaccine or COVID-19 booster. Even though vaccines take two weeks to work, vaccination is an effective, safe way to protect you and people around you from flu and COVID-19. This is especially important for those at higher risk including older people, people with chronic health conditions, people who are pregnant, and young children.
Dr O’Connor added: “Flu and COVID-19 are caused by two different viruses and require two different vaccines. You can get the flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster vaccine at the same time. Those aged 18-49 can now get their second COVID-19 booster vaccine. For information on how to book a COVID-19 or flu vaccine, visit the HSE website or call our team on HSELive on 1800 700 700.”
In addition to getting vaccinated, help prevent the spread of respiratory illness by:
- Washing your hands often with soap and warm water.
- Staying at home from work, school or crèche if you or your child is sick.
- Avoiding visits to vulnerable or elderly people if you are sick.
- Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze – put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands.
- Ensuring adequate ventilation in indoor settings, including opening windows and doors where possible to reduce the transmission of respiratory viruses.
- Cleaning objects and surfaces that other people touch frequently.
- Wearing a mask to protect yourself and those around you, especially in confined spaces like public transport.
Emergency Departments continue to be extremely busy due to the unprecedented combination of very high levels of flu, COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses in circulation. HSE Public Health Area A is appealing to people seeking medical care or assessment to consider all options before going to a hospital Emergency Department. Urgent patients will always be prioritised for treatment and care.
Other options available if you are feeling unwell or are injured are:
You can visit your local pharmacy if you feel unwell. Pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals. They can give you medicines you can buy without a prescription, medicines you have a prescription for, advice on minor illnesses, and can tell you if you need to see a GP.
GPs and GP Out-of-Hours Services:
Some GPs are running additional clinics during this time. If you urgently need to see a GP outside their clinic hours, you can contact your local GP out-of-hours service.
Minor Injury Units:
Injury units treat injuries that are not life-threatening. For example, broken bones, dislocations and burns. You do not need an appointment. There are 11 HSE Injury Unit locations, you can find one close to you on the HSE website: www2.hse.ie/services/injury-units.