HSE urges parents to get flu vaccine for children

The HSE has announced that community vaccination centres across the country will start offering walk-in flu vaccination clinics for children aged 2 to 17 starting this week.

This is in response to rising numbers of both flu cases in children as well as the significant number of children who have been hospitalised with flu this winter.

A number of community vaccination centres across the country are now offering walk-in flu vaccination clinics for all children aged 2-17.

No appointment is necessary and the vaccine is free of charge. The vaccine is also available from participating GPs and pharmacists. Parents can find details on pharmacies offering vaccinations in their area using the pharmacy finder tool.

The children’s free nasal flu vaccine will be available up until 23rd January. After this date, only children with medical conditions which put them at risk of serious illness from the flu will be able to get a vaccine. The HSE is encouraging parents to avail of this opportunity to vaccinate their children against the flu as the flu continues to spread and is likely to continue circulating further for a number of weeks.

Dr Aparna Keegan, Specialist in Public Health Medicine and Flu Lead, HSE National Immunisation Office said: “Flu is a serious illness that can be dangerous in children too. We are seeing rising cases of flu in the community so we are encouraging parents of children aged 12-17 to get their children vaccinated to protect them while there is still time.

“The nasal spray flu vaccine is a very safe and effective vaccine and helps your child’s immune system produce antibodies that fight infection. It cannot give your child the flu. If your child has had the flu vaccine and they come into contact with flu virus, these antibodies will help them fight the flu and reduce the risk of getting sick or needing to go to the hospital.

“The vaccination process is a simple nasal spray and is given by spraying the vaccine once into each of the child’s nostrils. Getting the nasal spray flu vaccine is a safe, effective and pain-free way to protect your child from flu this winter.”

While most children who catch the flu have mild symptoms, flu can sometimes lead to serious complications such as pneumonia or bronchitis in some children. Children, especially young children, are also more likely than adults to get severe complications of flu.

To date, nearly 700 children under the age of 14 have been hospitalised with flu this winter.

In Ireland, between 2009 and 2019, the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) reported:

  • 4,750 children needed hospital treatment because of complications of flu
  • 183 of these were admitted to intensive care
  • 41 children died

A full list of Vaccination centres and times can be found at: https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/flu/walk-in/

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