Carrickfergus GP surgery to run ‘out of hours’ flu clinic
Scotch Quarter Practice in Carrickfergus will be running a special out of hours flu clinic next weekend.
It comes as GPs across Northern Ireland are finding innovative ways to deliver flu clinics this year to avoid the further spread of COVID-19.
From drive through clinics to church halls and huge indoor arenas, GPs and their staff have worked hard to ensure patients will get their flu vaccinations this year.
As part of the annual flu vaccination programme, GPs deliver almost 500,000 vaccinations each year to those over 65, pregnant women, carers at home and people under 65 with an underlying health condition.
This year, close contacts of those who were shielding during the pandemic can also get the vaccine at their GP surgery.
Scotch Quarter Practice, based in Carrickfergus Health Centre, have been running their flu clinics via the rear of the building this year, making use of the old Physiotherapy Department.
Linda Hylands, Scotch Quarter Practice Manager said, “We are delighted to be able to offer our patients a safe, socially distanced environment to attend for their flu vaccinations. The use of the old Physio area allows us to operate a very successful one way system and patients have been very positive and complimentary about their experience.
“This was all made possible by a massive team approach between the GP Practices and the Northern Trust Staff, so a huge thank you to all involved.”
Weekly clinics are held on Mondays and Fridays; however, the practice will be running a special out of hours flu clinic on Saturday, October 31.
It is aimed particularly at patients who find it difficult to attend during working hours and the parents of young children.
Linda added: “If there are spare slots then we would encourage any patient who has not yet had their vaccination to come along. We will be supplying treats and nibbles for all who attend to mark the date.”
Dr Margaret O’Brien, Head of GP Services, Health and Social Care Board said: “The annual flu campaign is to help reduce the spread of flu and lower flu-related hospital admissions at a time when the health service is under strain as a result of COVID-19. It’ll also help reduce the risk of contracting flu and coronavirus at the same time. I’m particularly proud of the way GPs and their teams have stepped up to the plate this year to deliver this service under some very challenging conditions.”
The flu virus spreads through the air when people cough and sneeze without covering their nose and mouth.
Each year the strains of flu in circulation change, so new vaccines are formulated to reflect this.
Dr David Irwin, Consultant in Health Protection, Public Health Agency added: “We’re already seeing a second surge of coronavirus and we cannot afford to be complacent about getting the flu vaccine this year. The flu vaccine does not give you the flu. It is offered as the best protection for ‘at risk’ groups because if they get flu, they are more likely to have severe illness and develop complications such as pneumonia, which can be life-threatening.”
“The message is clear – don’t take the risk; get the vaccine.”