The Government has heard it is likely that there will be high levels of community transmission of respiratory viruses including influenza, respiratory syncytial virus and Covid-19 this winter.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly updated Cabinet today about the vaccination programme which will begin next week.

Vaccines will be delivered through GPs, pharmacies and mobile vaccination clinics.

Free flu vaccination will be available to those who are:

  • 65 years and older,
  • Those aged two to 12 years
  • Healthcare workers
  • People who are pregnant
  • Those in specified at-risk groups
  • Those who live with individuals in at-risk groups
  • Out-of-home care givers for people who have an underlying chronic health condition
  • People in regular contact with pigs, poultry or waterfowl

The Covid-19 vaccination will be available free of charge for those aged 50 years and older, those aged five-49 years who are immunocompromised, those aged five-49 years with medical conditions, people who are pregnant and healthcare workers.

The children's flu vaccination programme is scheduled to commence on 9 October.

The Department of Health has also requested advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee in relation to the potential use of vaccines for respiratory syncytial virus.

The importance of hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and staying at home when ill with respiratory symptoms will continue to be advised.

While wearing a face covering is no longer mandatory, anyone who wishes to continue to wear a face mask should not be discouraged from doing so.