Winter warnings of ‘Twindemic’ on the Horizon

by Rose Barrett
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person coughing

A new warning for Dubliners to get winter-ready as the fear of ‘vaccine fatigue’ takes hold. 

One thousand people completed the Winter Health Index, to gauge how prepared they were for the winter ahead, and for the seasonal belt of winter ‘flu and of course, the ongoing waves of Covid-19. 

Three in five Irish adults claim they are not concerned about the approaching winter ‘flu season. 

Rebecca Barry, Supervising Pharmacist with LloydsPharmacy says this is not surprising given the past two and a half years of exhaustive safety precautions, vaccines and restrictions in response to the spread of the coronavirus. 

“When Covid was rampant, people were mindful of health and safety measures,” said Rachel. “In the second year of Covid, vaccinations were prevalent. The HSE and public health experts really pushed the need for vaccinations and encouraged vulnerable groups to get vaccinated. 

“The results of the data gathered shows that unlike the two previous years, there hasn’t been as much as engagement with the public in getting vaccinated against the winter flu. 

Rebecca Barry

“This is simply ‘vaccine-fatigue’; the public are sick of talking about Covid, vaccines and boosters. When they were in the Covid vaccine mindset, they were also pro-active about getting their annual flu vaccine. 

“During 2020 and 2021, we had some protection as we all were all social distancing, mask wearing and practising hand hygiene. Along with the lock down restrictions, these in themselves were a good form of protection against flu. 

“This year we don’t have that. All we have is the flu vaccine and the public is worryingly complacent or tired of vaccine talk.” 

Having observed the latest trends seen in Australia where the winter flu, combined with Covid-19 led to a difficult winter for the health service, LlyodsPharmacy’s survey warn a ‘twindemic’ is likely to hit here this winter. 

“It is often observed that winter flu difficulties experienced in Australia are replicated across Europe in the months that follow,” said Rachel. “This year, Australia saw the flu virus affecting all age groups, and not just the elderly or vulnerable – that’s still under investigation.” 

Their research shows 71 per cent of Dublin adults aged 35-44 intend to either not go for flu vaccination or are still unsure, despite evidence that the flu vaccination plays a vital role in keeping people well and healthy during the tough winter months. 

“Flu vaccines will generally be available about the end of September,” said Rachel. “Flus can mutate from year to year so different strains will circulate. There are four strains of flu protected by flu vaccines. The best prediction of what will be the most widely circulated strains each season usually stems from what Australasia has experienced.” 

This flu season, children aged two to 17 years can get the nasal flu vaccine free of charge as 36 per cent of parents surveyed claim that they are planning to get their children protected with the flu vaccine at their GP or pharmacist, available from mid- late October. 

Remember, if you’re aged 18 years or over and in one of the vulnerable groups, you may be eligible to get it free of charge, and the best time to be vaccinated is before the flu season hits. See Getting the flu vaccine – HSE.ie or speak with your pharmacist. See www.lloydspharmacy.ie or download the LloydsPharmacy app where a range of appointment booking options are available, including flu, Covid-19 boosters, HPV, Shingles and Travel Vaccinations.

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