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HIQA Launches Consultation on Enhanced Flu Vaccines for Seniors

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The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has initiated a public consultation on its draft health technology assessment (HTA) regarding the use of enhanced inactivated influenza (flu) vaccines for individuals aged 65 and older. This assessment, part of the Health Service Executive’s (HSE) Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Programme, aims to inform the Minister for Health’s decision on funding enhanced flu vaccines for this age group.

Dr. Máirín Ryan, HIQA’s Deputy CEO and Director of Health Technology Assessment, emphasized the importance of vaccine effectiveness. She noted that sometimes the effectiveness of vaccines is suboptimal due to mismatches between the vaccine content and the circulating flu strains, as well as age-related immune system decline. Enhanced flu vaccines have been developed to address these issues and increase overall vaccine effectiveness.

In Ireland, people aged 65 and older are already eligible for a free flu vaccine through the HSE’s Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Programme. Despite a 77% uptake among this age group during the 2022-2023 flu season, the data indicates that seniors are disproportionately affected by influenza, experiencing higher morbidity and mortality rates. Additionally, the flu season in 2022-2023 saw over 1,700 hospital admissions for flu-related complications among those aged 65 and older, highlighting the significant burden on healthcare services.

Enhanced Flu Vaccines: Safety and Effectiveness

HIQA’s assessment found that enhanced flu vaccines are safe and potentially more effective than standard vaccines. The report suggests that offering an enhanced vaccine to those aged 65 and older could be a good use of HSE resources, provided the cost is manageable. The cost-effectiveness of these vaccines is a crucial factor in the decision to fund them, making price negotiations with manufacturers a key consideration.

HIQA has published its draft findings and is seeking public feedback on the report. Interested parties can participate in the consultation via an online survey or by submitting a form available on HIQA’s website. The deadline for submissions is 5pm on 11 July 2024. The feedback gathered will be used to finalize the report, which will then be submitted as advice to the Minister for Health and published on the HIQA website.

Public engagement in this consultation process is vital for ensuring that the final recommendations reflect the views and concerns of all stakeholders, including healthcare professionals, senior citizens, and the general public. By participating, individuals can contribute to the decision-making process that may significantly impact public health outcomes for seniors. This inclusive approach is essential for creating a robust and comprehensive vaccination strategy that addresses the needs of the community effectively.


Improving Flu Vaccination Strategies for Seniors in Ireland

Healthcare professionals bring invaluable insights into the practical aspects of vaccine administration and efficacy, which can help shape policies that are both feasible and beneficial. Senior citizens, who are the primary beneficiaries of this initiative, provide critical feedback on their experiences and expectations, ensuring that the program is tailored to their specific health needs. The general public’s input is also crucial as it reflects broader societal perspectives and helps build public trust and acceptance of the vaccination program.

The launch of this public consultation by HIQA represents a proactive step towards improving flu vaccination strategies for seniors in Ireland. Enhanced flu vaccines could offer better protection and reduce the healthcare burden during flu seasons. The consultation process not only allows for a diverse range of opinions but also promotes transparency and accountability in health policy-making. By incorporating feedback from various stakeholders, HIQA aims to develop a vaccination program that is not only scientifically sound but also widely supported by the community.

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Stakeholders are encouraged to review the draft report and provide their feedback to help shape a more effective and efficient vaccination program for those aged 65 and older. This collaborative effort will ensure that the final recommendations are well-rounded and address all pertinent issues. Moreover, engaging with the consultation process helps stakeholders stay informed about the latest developments and understand the rationale behind proposed changes.

In addition to providing feedback, stakeholders can also participate by sharing the consultation with their networks, further broadening the scope of input. This widespread involvement can lead to a more comprehensive understanding of public sentiment and ensure that the final recommendations are reflective of the community’s collective wisdom.

Ultimately, the goal of this consultation is to enhance the flu vaccination program, making it more effective in preventing illness and reducing the strain on healthcare resources. By working together, stakeholders can contribute to a healthier future for seniors in Ireland, ensuring that they receive the best possible protection against influenza. This initiative underscores the importance of community involvement in health policy decisions and sets a precedent for future public health initiatives.


Resource: Health Information and Quality Authority, May 30, 2024

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