Influenza activity continues to decrease
Influenza activity in Ireland continues to decrease. The number of notified cases reported decreased further during week 15 2022 but influenza viruses are still circulating in Ireland. People in at-risk groups are urged to get vaccinated against influenza.
The latest influenza surveillance report was published Thursday 21th April 2022, and is available here on the HPSC website.
Summary of influenza activity in Ireland
Up to the week ending April 17th 2022 (week 15 2022), the most recent influenza surveillance data indicate that the number of laboratory confirmed influenza cases notified to HPSC decreased compared to the previous week.
Sixty-five confirmed influenza cases were notified during the most recent week, compared to 135 cases in the previous week (ending April 10th 2022). The median age of the 65 notified cases was 37 years. Of the 65 cases, 20 (30.8%) were reported as hospital inpatients, with a median age of 33 years.
The overall influenza positivity rate reported from the National Virus Reference Laboratory is 6.3% for week 15, and was 8.0% for week 14 2022 compared to 13.4% during week 13 2022.
Since October 2021 (2021/2022 influenza season to date), 1,852 laboratory confirmed influenza cases have been notified to HPSC. Four hundred and twenty-four (22.9%) of these cases were reported as hospital inpatients, including thirteen confirmed influenza cases admitted to critical care units.
To date this season, nine deaths in notified influenza cases have been reported. Twenty influenza outbreaks have been notified - nine hospital outbreaks, two family outbreaks, six nursing home outbreaks, one outbreak linked to a social gathering and two in other healthcare settings.
The sentinel GP influenza-like illness (ILI) consultation rate has decreased to 6.9/100,000 population during week 15 2022, compared to 12.5/100,000 population during week 14 2022.
Influenza A (H3) remains the predominant influenza virus circulating in Ireland during the 2021/2022 season to date.
View the latest influenza surveillance report is available on the HPSC website here.
Influenza (flu) vaccine
The influenza vaccine is available free of charge from GPs and pharmacists for everyone in the recommendation groups. People recommended to get the flu vaccine are:
- People including children (aged 6 months and older)
- with chronic illness requiring regular medical follow-up such as chronic lung disease, chronic heart disease, chronic neurological disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders and diabetes.
- Those with lower immunity due to disease or treatment and all cancer patients.
- Those with morbid obesity i.e. Body Mass Index ≥ 40.
If you are a carer or a household contact of a person with one of these conditions, you can also get a free flu vaccine.
- All those aged 50 years and older.
- All pregnant women. The vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy.
- Residents of nursing homes, old people's homes and other long stay facilities.
- Health care workers and carers of those in at-risk groups.
Vaccination remains the most effective way of preventing infection by seasonal influenza viruses and can reduce severe disease that can lead to hospitalisation and death. The vaccine takes two weeks to work once received. It is not too late to get your flu vaccine this season. You can get it from participating GPs and pharmacists. Find a list of pharmacies near you providing the flu vaccine: https://www2.hse.ie/services/pharmacies-flu/
Please visit www.hse.ie/flu for more information on the flu vaccine and eligible groups.
As influenza levels are now increasing, it is recommended that antivirals be considered for the treatment and prevention of influenza in at-risk groups.
What do you do if you have flu-like symptoms
Anyone who gets flu should stay at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and use over-the-counter remedies like paracetamol to ease symptoms. Advice, tips, information and videos on getting over flu and other common illnesses are available at a new HSE website, www.undertheweather.ie.
When to seek help
If you are in an at-risk group with flu symptoms OR if you are not in an at-risk group but your flu symptoms are severe or getting worse, you should contact your GP. GPs may wish to prescribe antivirals for those presenting with influenza in the at-risk groups. If you need to visit your GP or the Emergency Department, please phone first to explain that you might have flu.
If your child has flu and their symptoms are severe or last for more than one week, contact your GP. Please phone first to explain that they might have flu.
Covering your cough and sneeze can stop the spread of germs that make people sick.
- DO use a tissue and place it immediately in the bin. Wash your hands or use a hand sanitiser.
- DO cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve.
- DON’T cough or sneeze into your hands. You’ll end up spreading germs to everything you touch.
Posters and social media resources for respiratory hygiene are available to download from the HPSC website.
April 21st 2022