While flu activity in Ireland has peaked, it still remains high, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) has warned.
It is encouraging people in at-risk groups who have not been vaccinated yet, to get vaccinated, as flu viruses are expected to circulate for at least another four to six weeks.
At-risk groups include people over the age of 65, pregnant women and anyone with a long-term health condition, such as heart disease, diabetes and moderate to severe asthma.
According to the HPSC, the number of reported cases of flu remained high in Ireland in the past week, while influenza-like illness (ILI) activity remained at medium levels.
It noted that while ILI rates decreased overall from 82 per 100,000 people in week one of January to 66 per 100,000 in week two, during week two, ILI rates increased in those aged 65 and older.
The number of flu-related hospitalisations fell slightly from 662 in week one to 609 in week two. The highest hospitalisation rates were recorded in people over the age of 65 and in children aged under five.
As of the end of January 12, 2020, this flu season has resulted in 2,707 confirmed hospitalisations. Ninety-four of these have been admitted to critical care units and 44 people have died as a result of flu. The majority of these deaths have occurred in people over the age of 65.
People are reminded that the flu vaccine is available free of charge from GPs for all people in at-risk groups, and from pharmacists for everyone in at-risk groups aged 10 years and older. An administration charge may apply to people who do not have a medical card or GP visit card.
"Vaccination remains the most effective means of preventing infection by seasonal influenza viruses and can reduce severe disease that can lead to hospitalisation and death. The vaccine takes two weeks to take effect once received," the HPSC said.
It advised people affected by flu to stay at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and use over-the-counter remedies like paracetamol to ease symptoms.
Contact your GP if you have severe symptoms or if you are aged 65 years and older, are pregnant, or if you have a long-term health condition that puts you at risk of complications of flu.
For more information on flu, click here.
Discussions on this topic are now closed.