The Chief Medical Officer Professor Breda Smyth is calling on parents to get the flu nasal vaccine for their children and for anyone eligible for a Covid booster to get it.
Prof Smyth told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that uptake on the nasal vaccine for flu for children has been less than 10 per cent. The target of 75 per cent for people aged over 65 has also not been reached for the flu vaccine.
In the past week there has been an increase in hospitalised cases of flu and increased positivity of Covid which was putting pressure on the health system, she added.
The experience in the southern hemisphere where winter has already passed was that up to 60 per cent of hospital cases were children.
“I would urge people to get their booster.”
Prof Smyth also explained that investigations were ongoing into the possibility that Strep A was a contributory factor in the death of a four-year-old. So far this year there had been 55 cases of invasive Strep A which was lower than previous years pre-pandemic. In 2018 the number of cases was 136 and in 2019 it was 108.
However, she warned that there were a lot of respiratory illnesses at present including flu and RSV. When a case of invasive Strep A was diagnosed in a school or creche then the public health risk assessment team would be sent in to determine what course of action was necessary and if preventative antibiotics needed to be administered.
If parents were concerned about their child then they should act quickly and seek medical attention, she suggested.
Dr Scott Walkin, the Irish College of General Practitioners’ lead on infection control told Newstalk Breakfast that while Strep A was a common bug it was quite rare for it to become more serious.
When asked about fears in the UK about a possible shortage of antibiotics, Dr Walkin said that was not a concern in Ireland. While some antibiotics were in short supply, there were alternatives available.
“There’s no crisis because we have access to other antibiotics that are effective.”