Children aged 2 to 17 can get the nasal flu vaccine for free

HSE Media Release: 11 December 2020

The vaccine and its administration are now available free of charge for 2 - 17-year-old children through participating GP practices and pharmacies. Read more information here.

The flu vaccine will help protect children against flu and reduce the spread of flu to others, for example, their brothers, sisters, parents and grandparents. If enough children are vaccinated against flu, fewer children and adults will need to see their doctor or need treatment in a hospital because of the flu. This is very important for our health services, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Symptoms of flu in children include a high temperature, muscle pains, headache and extreme tiredness (fatigue). They may also have a dry cough and sore throat. It may be difficult to tell the symptoms of flu from symptoms of Covid-19.

Children who are sick with flu miss days in crèche, childcare and school. They also miss out on their usual activities such as hobbies and sports. Children carry the flu virus in their system longer than adults do, and children can spread the flu virus easily to other children and to vulnerable people around them.

Children are more likely than adults to get severe complications of flu. Over the last ten years in Ireland, 4,750 children need to be admitted to hospital because of complications of flu. 183 of these then had to go to intensive care, and, sadly 41 children died. Children with chronic health conditions are most at risk of the serious complications of flu.

Dr Chantal Migone, Specialist in Public Health Medicine with the HSE’s National Immunisation Office said:

“We welcome Minister Donnelly’s announcement today about the extension of the nasal flu vaccine to include young people aged 13-17 years. So far nearly 200,000 children between the ages of 2 and 12 years have received the nasal flu vaccine through GP practices and pharmacies across the country. The first batches of nasal flu vaccine are due to expire in the middle of January so it’s important for parents to come forward to get their children vaccinated now, to protect them against flu.”

See www.hse.ie/flu for more information.

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Last updated on: 14 / 12 / 2020