Despite the annual pressure being heaped on GP practices and Emergency Departments, the current flu season has still not approached anywhere near the levels witnessed during the swine flu pandemic of 2009 says a local GP.
Castlederg based GP Brendan O’Hare has said that the current influx of patients into his practice resembles the annual upsurge witnessed during winter months.
While ‘Australian flu’ has been linked to a number of deaths in the south of Ireland, Dr O’Hare said he had not encountered many hospital admissions linked to the high profile A(H3N2) strand.
However those eligible for the free flu vaccine, including the elderly, young children and anyone with a weakened immune system have been urged to get it without delay.
Coined in the wake of the worst flu season seen in Australia since 2009, the levels of flu witnessed in the southern hemisphere country has resulted in the A(H3N2) being included in this year’s flu vaccine here.
“We are definitely seeing a high level of flu-like illness. We are monitoring it and we certainly have the Aussie one and influenza A,” said the GP.
“Although the vaccine the Australians used didn’t offer protection, ours does seem to be offering a measure of protection, so a lot of the vulnerable people have been immunised and thankfully they will be protected.”
Dr O’Hare said he has seen many young people presenting with high temperatures, aches and very persistent coughs.
“It’s a matter of paracetamol, hot drinks and rest until it passes in roughly a week or so.
“Whilst it has been unpleasant, it certainly hasn’t been at the same level as the swine flu.”
However he said he expects most practices to remain very busy throughout the winter months.
The Public Health Agency has said that getting the free flu vaccine is the single most important thing you can do to help protect yourself against flu.
“Everyone who is eligible to be vaccinated against flu should see it as a positive step in protecting their health and the health of others around them,” said Dr Lorraine Doherty, assistant director at the PHA.
“It will also help reduce the burden on our health service during an already busy time of year. All Trusts here make flu vaccine available to healthcare workers.”
Read the full story in this week’s paper, available in your local newsagents today or subscribe to our Digital Edition by clicking below