UNICEF partners with Saolta Group, HSE and NUI Galway

5th October 2017


Saolta Group, HSE and NUI Galway launch 2017/2018 flu vaccine campaign and partner with UNICEF to help eradicate polio

“Get a vaccine, give a vaccine” 1 Flu Vaccine = 10 Polio Vaccines

The Saolta University Health Care Group and HSE Community Healthcare Organisation CHO2 (Galway, Mayo and Roscommon,) together with the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences NUI Galway, today (Oct 4th) launched the flu vaccine campaign at University Hospital Galway. This year the Saolta Group and NUI Galway are partnering with UNICEF. For every flu vaccine given to staff, 10 polio vaccines will be donated to UNICEF. UNICEF is committed to the eradication of polio and through this promotional campaign staff and students can support this valuable initiative.

Commenting John Shaughnessy Saolta Group Director of HR said, “As we enter flu season, we are particularly requesting health care workers to get the vaccine to protect themselves, their families and their patients. Vaccination of healthcare workers has been shown to reduce flu-related deaths by 40% and for the next number of months we will have a number of clinics available at each hospital site to make it easier for our staff to avail of the vaccine. We have also trained a number of staff as Peer Vaccinators who go directly to wards and units to provide the vaccine to their colleagues. We are particularly glad to partner with UNICEF this year and support them in their efforts to eradicate polio. Our staff can know that as well as protecting themselves and those around them, they are also making an important contribution to UNICEF’s work.”

Mr Tony Canavan Chief Officer Community Health Organisation Area 2 (Galway, Mayo & Roscommon) outlined that the promotion of the flu vaccine for all staff is of vital importance. The majority of community based HSE staff are amongst the highest risk groups, being 10 times more likely to get the flu. It is hoped that this approach to the promotion of the flu vaccine will lead to increased uptake levels this year.

Dr Aine McNamara, Consultant in Public Health Medicine with the HSE in the West added, “The flu vaccine is the best defence against flu. Flu is responsible for between 200 and 500 deaths each year in Ireland. In a severe season it can cause up to 1000 deaths. “The vaccine reduces infection and associated illnesses and hospitalisation.  Flu is very infectious and can cause potentially serious illnesses especially for older people, those who have a chronic illness, those with weakened immune systems and pregnant women. The flu vaccine is a safe, effective way to help prevent flu infection, avoid hospitalisation and reduce flu related deaths and illnesses.”

Dr. Yvonne Finn, Vice-Dean for Internationalisation at the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway said: “The College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway are delighted to partner with Saolta and UNICEF in this year’s flu vaccine promotion: “Get a vaccine, give a vaccine”. By receiving the flu vaccine our students and staff, alongside Saolta staff, will protect themselves and their patients. Furthermore students and staff can do so in the knowledge that this will provide valuable polio vaccines to UNICEF in the fight to eradicate polio.”

Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences added: “This collaborative partnership between our college of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences and our colleagues in Saolta is an example of our commitment to working together to promote best practice in healthcare and patient safety. Through this campaign our students at NUI Galway will support UNICEF’s initiative to eradicate polio in the developing world.”

Peter Power, Executive Director of UNICEF Ireland said: “I welcome the incredibly innovative approach the HSE, Saolta and NUI Galway are taking to the flu vaccine campaign this year. Thanks to the creative thinking of these valued UNICEF partners, some of the most vulnerable children in the world will receive the polio vaccination, helping them to survive and thrive. That is a central part of UNICEF’s mission, and we are glad to support this initiative.’

UNICEF Ambassador Joe Canning added: “I am thrilled to support this campaign. Its simplicity makes it a winning strategy for children in greatest need. I have seen for myself the life-changing impact simple medical interventions like this can bring to children in the countries where UNICEF works. Staff at the HSE and Saolta and students at NUI Galway are making a real team effort, and the impact on children’s lives will be enormous.”



Notes to Editors



UNICEF is the United Nations’ organisation for children. It was established in the aftermath of World War II to help refugee children. Today UNICEF fights for children’s rights and promotes the well-being of every child in 190 countries. UNICEF began operating in Ireland in 1962. UNICEF Ireland is funded by voluntary donations.

Ending polio saves lives and resources

Polio is a highly infectious but entirely preventable disease which invades the nervous system and can cause paralysis or death in a matter of hours.  It mostly affects children under 5 years old who live in conflict-affected or service-deprived areas with poor sanitation and health care.  Polio disproportionally affects the most excluded, hard-to-reach and vulnerable children.  Millions of health workers are helping UNICEF reach children who have never been vaccinated before, providing an unprecedented opportunity to finish the job and eradicate polio.

Until polio is eradicated everywhere, all children across the globe remain at risk: it only takes one polio-infected traveller to re-introduce the disease to any polio-free country. Polio anywhere remains a threat to children everywhere. Moreover, if the polio eradication efforts will stop before the job is done, it will likely result in the global resurgence of the disease, with an estimated 200,000 new cases every year within 10 years.

UNICEF is one of the spearheading partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) established in 1988 with the World Health Organization (WHO), Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to eradicate this disease from the face of earth.  Since 1988, GPEI has achieved tangible results for children:

Issued by Saolta University Health Care Group: media@saolta.ie

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