By Joe Barrett
The Labour Party’s representative in the Graiguecullen/Portarlington Municipal District Eoin Barry is calling for the winter flu vaccination to be administered free of charge to all.
He said that just as with the Covi-19 vaccination roll-out mass vaccination centres could be used in Laois to get the flu vaccine out quickly.
Mr Barry said: “If the Government is serious about helping stop the spread of the flu while tackling rising COVID-19 cases this winter they should make the flu vaccine free for all citizens.
“Due to the successful rollout of the Covid vaccine, we now have huge infrastructure and experience which I believe we should look to use mass vaccination centres like in Laois to get the flu vaccine into the community quickly.
“I believe the Government’s decision to not offer the flu vaccine to all citizens for free is doing a disservice to our people, particularly our frontline workers.
“It’s not enough to just provide this vaccine free of charge to children and those in at-risk groups, this year of all years we must provide it to all citizens for free if we want to try minimise the damage on our Emergency Departments created in the past by the flu.”
He said: “We all know the pressure that the winter flu puts on our local hospital in Portlaoise. We cannot afford to have both the winter flu and Covid-19 rampant in our ICUs this November and December.
“I know from speaking to medical experts that the more people who receive the flu vaccine mean that we are less likely to see patients with the flu on specialist beds such as ICU beds, as well as regular in-patient facilities.
“Extending the flu vaccine to all for free could be the layer of protection needed for slowing the spread of the flu this year and could also free up our hospitals somewhat during the usually busy winter time.
“It’s not too late for the Minister to go beyond the steps he has already taken in making the vaccine available for free for primary school students and at-risk citizens and just extend the vaccine to all for free.
It’s the right thing to do,” said Mr Barry.