HSE issue advice on respiratory illnesses (Flu and COVID-19)

HSE Dublin and North East is urging the public to follow public health advice – if you have respiratory symptoms stay at home until 48 hours after your major symptoms have resolved and get vaccinated as high levels of flu, COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses are currently circulating in the community.

Dr Suzanne Cotter, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, Public Health HSE Dublin and North East, said: “The surge of respiratory illnesses in the community is putting significant pressure on our health services across the region. We know from previous years that a delayed peak in flu season such as we are seeing now, will inevitably lead to further pressures throughout the health services with heightened risk of outbreaks in healthcare settings.”

“If you are unwell you should stay home until 48 hours after your major symptoms have resolved; avoid visiting people who are more vulnerable if you are unwell, especially avoid visiting hospitals or residential care facilities if unwell. As schools and childcare facilities reopen this week we also ask parents and guardians to keep their children home from school/crèche if they have respiratory symptoms.”

“We remind people about good infection control practice, including washing hands regularly and covering nose and mouth if you have coughs and sneezes. Healthcare settings are assessing the risks locally and monitoring their own local risks, and this may lead them to take additional measures in certain settings, such as the wearing of masks if deemed necessary. Such measures will help protect those who may be more vulnerable to the effects of these infections. Significant work has taken place and continues, to support acute hospitals deal with the expected rise in attendances and admissions. It is not too late to get vaccination, which can protect you and your loved ones, and help reduce the burden on the health service at a very busy time of year.”

“Vaccination remains the best way to reduce the incidence or these respiratory illnesses. Flu and COVID-19 are caused by two different viruses and require two different vaccines. The HSE is urging every eligible person to get vaccinated against flu and COVID-19 as soon as possible. People with long-term health conditions, healthcare workers (HCWs) and children aged 2-17 can avail of free vaccination. You can get the flu and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time. For information on COVID-19 and flu vaccination and to find where to get your vaccines, visit the HSE.ie or call HSELive on 1800 700 700,” added Dr Cotter.

Carole Broadbank, Chief Officer of Midlands Louth Meath Community Health Organisation (CHO 8), said: “Getting vaccinated now can offer significant protection against acute respiratory infections as our Emergency Departments continue to be extremely busy due to the very high levels of flu, COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses circulating in the community. Topping up your protection by getting the flu and COVID-19 vaccines if you are eligible remains the best way to reduce the spread of respiratory viruses.”

“Also, knowing how to manage common illnesses and where to go if you need medical assistance will also make it that bit easier if you, or someone you care for, becomes ill or is injured. There are a number of options available to you depending on what medical assistance you need including an extensive GP Out-of-Hours service and local injury units. Please consider all the options that are available to you to help determine your best course of action.”

Other options available if you are feeling unwell or are injured are:

Community Pharmacies:

You can visit your local pharmacy if you feel unwell. Pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals. They can give you medicines you can buy without a prescription, medicines you have a prescription for, advice on minor illnesses, and can tell you if you need to see a GP.

GPs and GP Out-of-Hours Services:

If you urgently need to see a GP outside their clinic hours, you can contact your local GP out-of-hours service.

Minor Injury Units:

Injury units treat injuries that are not life-threatening or unlikely to need admission to hospital. For example, broken bones, dislocations and burns. You do not need an appointment. There are HSE injury units located around the country, you can find one close to you on the HSE website.

See the HSE website also for useful advice on common illnesses such as colds, coughs, flu, earache and sore throats and information on how to keep well in winter.