UL Hospitals Group and HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare launch Staff Flu Vaccination Campaign and partner with UNICEF to help fight measles

9th October 2020

Get a Vaccine, Give a Vaccine: 1 flu vaccine = 10 measles vaccines


Photo shows (left to right) Christine Ryan RGN, Roisin Murphy Health Care Assistant, Rebecca Cooke MTA, Dhivyal Plakkal Asst. Director of Nursing, Donncha O’Callaghan, UNICEF Ambassador, Noel O’Brien Maintenance, Sharon Byrnes Administration, Caroline Collopy Health Care Assistant, Carol Desmond, Allocations Liaison Officer, Midwifery, University Maternity Hospital Limerick, Fiona Rigney Practice Development Co-ordinator, Old Persons Services pictured as UL Hospitals Group and HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare launched the Staff Flu Vaccination Campaign and partner with UNICEF to help eradicate measles. Pic. Brian Arthur

 

UL Hospitals Group and HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare have launched their 2020-2021 Staff Flu Vaccination Campaign, highlighting the unprecedented importance of vaccination against flu in the era of COVID-19, and helping UNICEF to fight measles in the developing world.

UNICEF ambassador Donncha O’Callaghan, famous throughout the Mid-West for his feats on the pitch with Munster Rugby, came to Limerick last week to help launch the staff flu vaccine campaign, which will also help protect tens of thousands of vulnerable children in the developing world from the threat of measles.

The ‘Get a Vaccine – Give a Vaccine’ initiative means that for every flu vaccination given to healthcare staff in the Mid-West, UL Hospitals Group and HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare are giving the cost of 10 measles vaccines to UNICEF for vulnerable children in the developing world. Donncha and UNICEF are urging healthcare workers and staff to answer this call to protect themselves and others, at home and in the developing world.

Covid-19, flu & measles

According to December 2019 data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 140,000 people worldwide died from measles in 2018. Last year alone, 5.2m children under the age of 5 years, and 1m adolescents died of preventable causes.

Calling for the maximum number of healthcare staff in the Mid-West to avail of the free staff flu vaccination, Donncha said: “I’m asking all our fantastic healthcare workers in UL Hospitals Group and HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare to get a vaccine to give a vaccine. We need you to lead the way in this. Not only are you protecting yourself – you are also protecting others.”

A difficult Winter

While the battle against COVID-19 continues, it is important to remember that flu is a very serious illness, and that up to 500 people die from the virus in Ireland every year. Healthcare workers are at increased risk of infection from flu. Almost 20% of healthcare workers in this country are infected every year. Over the past 60 years, the flu vaccine has proven a safe and effective protection from flu for millions of people.

As we face into the Winter against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, vaccination of healthcare staff against flu – which has similar symptoms to COVID-19 and is transmitted in the same way – has assumed unprecedented importance.

Healthcare leads

Healthcare workers can play a leading role in ensuring that they and their patients, families and communities are protected from influenza while continuing to hold firm to recommended public health guidance on social distancing, hand-washing and respiratory etiquette that minimises the risk of contracting COVID-19.

And by assisting UNICEF’s ‘Get a Vaccine – Give a Vaccine’ initiative, the support of healthcare staff for the flu vaccine in the Mid-West is of enormous significance to the global family at a time when COVID-19 threatens the delivery of vaccinations for millions of children worldwide.

As the UN’s child rights agency, UNICEF works to promote immunisation and ensure all children survive and thrive. Over the past 18 years, measles vaccination alone is estimated to have saved more than 23 million lives. However, with a stagnation in vaccination rates globally over the past decade, UNICEF must work harder than ever, through initiatives such as its partnership with UL Hospitals Group and HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare, to ensure that children in the developing world are protected. 95 per cent vaccination coverage with two doses of measles vaccine is needed in each country to prevent outbreaks, and protect populations from the disease.

Aiming high

The joint staff vaccination effort by UL Hospitals Group and HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare is part of a national campaign by the HSE to maximise flu vaccination uptake amongst among ‘at risk’ groups, which includes over 65s, people with long-term health conditions, and pregnant women, as well as healthcare workers.

Anne Ryan, Head of Service, Health & Wellbeing, HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare said: “HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare are delighted to be working collaboratively with UL Hospitals and UNICEF for our staff influenza campaign.”

“This year for every staff member who gets the flu vaccine, UL Hospitals Group and HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare will fund 10 measles vaccinations for children in the developing world. I am encouraging all Healthcare staff to get the flu vaccine to protect themselves, the people they care for in their jobs and their families. It is particularly important to get the flu vaccine as we are all working in a Covid-19 backdrop and it will minimise the risk of getting both viruses,” she said.

Head of Strategy for UL Hospitals Group, Suzanne Dunne, outlined the measures put in place across hospital sites to make access to the vaccine easier for staff than ever before: “This year, with the threat of COVID-19 still present, it has never been more important for staff in our hospitals to be vaccinated against the flu. This year, we will be running additional clinics across our hospital sites to ensure our healthcare staff get the flu vaccine. The Flu Steering Committee has been meeting since June to ensure all aspects of staff safety are considered to include social distancing in all our clinics, training on the new SwiftQ flu booking system and additional administration teams to support peer vaccinators.”

“We’d ask you to remember that a single staff flu vaccination here is worth 10 measles vaccinations for vulnerable children in the developing world. When we say, ‘Protect yourself, protect others’, not only are we referring to yourself, your patients, families and loved ones, but also to the global community, and children in the developing world who need our help,” she said.

Prof Brian Lenehan, Chief Clinical Director, UL Hospitals Group said the similarities in symptoms between seasonal influenza and COVID-19 made it essential for healthcare workers in hospitals to get the flu vaccine and help minimise the risk of contracting COVID-19 and flu at the same time.

“The flu vaccine does not offer any protection against COVID-19. However, by taking the vaccine, and continuing to practice the public health guidelines around social distancing, hand hygiene, and wearing face coverings, it will help to minimise the threat from both infections, and protect the resources of our hospitals and public health system for those who need them most,” Prof Lenehan said.

Dr Anne Hogan, Principal Medical Officer, HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare, highlights the importance of Healthcare workers getting the flu vaccine.

“Healthcare Workers are at increased risk of getting flu, with 1 in 5 healthcare workers infected with flu every year. Some people have mild symptoms or no symptoms, but can still pass the flu to others. Even very healthy people can become seriously ill with flu. Flu Vaccine is a safe and effective way to protect yourself, your loved ones, your colleagues and your patients.”

John Hannafin, Chairman of the UL Hospitals Group Patient Council, urged all healthcare staff to avail of the vaccine: “The vaccine will offer protection from flu to them, their families, the wider community and the patients they come into contact with. The vaccine will help control spread of the flu, and assist greatly in reducing the number of vulnerable people who would normally require hospitalisation at a time when hospitals are facing so many other challenges.”

A win-win

UNICEF Ambassador Donncha O’Callaghan said he was thrilled to support the joint campaign by UL Hospitals Group and HSE Midwest Community Healthcare: “Healthcare workers have given us so much, and it’s crucially important we get them the protection they need this winter. We feel sure they will once again answer the call when we give them yet another opportunity to protect the vulnerable in their own communities, and also in the developing world. Vaccines are helping to end preventable child deaths all over the world. We’re saying to healthcare staff – Get a vaccine, give a vaccine. We’re all in this together.”

UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power appealed for the support of Mid-West healthcare workers at a time when COVID-19 has caused the shut-down of many immunization programmes in the developing world:

“UNICEF provides 45% of the world’s vaccines for children under-five because no child should die from a vaccine-preventable disease. Covid-19 caused many of our immunisation programmes to be shut down, and now we desperately need to get those children the life-saving protection they need from deadly diseases like measles,” he said.

“UNICEF’s innovative ‘Get a Vaccine, Give a Vaccine’ programme, gives healthcare staff the best chance of maintaining full health this flu season, as we work on through the Covid-19 pandemic. And, by supporting this programme, you can ensure that children in need receive life-saving vaccines. It’s a win-win,” he added.

 

ENDS

 

Notes for Editors: 

WATCH: UNICEF ambassador Donncha O’Callaghan, with staff from UL Hospitals Group and HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare, promoting the ‘Get a Vaccine, Give a Vaccine’ campaign: https://bit.ly/2GPq3ZQ

IMAGERY: Photos from the launch event can be sent by Brian Arthur Photography – 087-0505874 – brian@brianarthur.ie                                                                                                                     

About HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare 

HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare offers high quality integrated services as close to home as possible for a population of 385,000 people in Clare, Limerick & North Tipperary. Our focus is on a wide range of services, Primary Care, Older Persons Services, Disabilities, Mental Health & Health & Wellbeing. Our vision is a high quality service valued by all people in the Mid-West. For more information visit our Website. Follow us on Twitter (@CommHealthMW)

About UL Hospitals Group:

UL Hospitals Group is made up of six hospital sites in the Midwest. The six sites, which function as a single hospital system, are: University Hospital Limerick, University Maternity Hospital Limerick, Nenagh Hospital, Ennis Hospital, Croom Orthopaedic Hospital, and St John’s Hospital (Voluntary). We provide emergency, surgical and medical services on an inpatient and outpatient basis, serving a population of 385,000 people in Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary. For more information visit our website. Follow us on Twitter (@ULHospitals) and Linkedin.

About UNICEF  

UNICEF works in the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for every child, visit our website. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook 

For more information, please contact: 

 

HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare: Sinead Walsh, Communications Officer

061-483916 | 087-1513829 | sineadwalsh11@hse.ie

 

UL Hospitals Group: Keith Watterson, Communications Officer

061-482993 | 087-1048116 | keith.watterson@hse.ie

 

UNICEF: Aedín Donnelly, Communications and Media Manager for UNICEF Ireland

+353 85 1395272 | aedin@unicef.ie