The Health Service Executive has launched its winter vaccination programme offering the annual flu vaccine and new Covid-19 booster vaccines, which protect against the Omicron strain.

The flu jab is free to eligible groups and can be administered at the same time as a Covid booster.

The HSE has urged older people and at-risk groups to protect themselves against both illnesses.

From today, the flu vaccine is being administered free to people aged 65 or older, to children aged two to 17 by way of a nasal spray, to people with certain long-term medical conditions, women at any stage of pregnancy and to health staff.

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The flu and Covid vaccinations are available at participating GPs and pharmacies and 15 HSE centres also continue to offer Covid-19 vaccines and boosters.

Latest data from the Central Statistics Office show that Covid-19 first booster rates range from 36% to 75% around the country.

Just 14% of employees across all sectors were not fully vaccinated.