IMO urges parents to avail of free flu vaccination for children
- Children aged 2-12 years old can avail of free vaccine
- Nasal spray is simple and quick
- Important to protect children and their families
Wednesday, October 28th, 2020. The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has urged parents to ensure their children avail of the free flu vaccination this winter, saying that it was more important than ever given the healthcare crisis that Covid-19 has presented.
Children aged from two to 12 years old can get the flu vaccine for free. The vaccine is administered nasally and will protect children against the flu and help reduce the spread of flu to others.
Dr Madeleine Ni Dhalaigh, a member of the GP Committee of the IMO, said that it was crucial that parents contacted their GP as soon as possible to arrange an appointment. “This year for the first time in Ireland children aged 2 to 12 can get a free nasal flu vaccine. It is really important that we give every protection to our children as the flu is highly infectious and children can spread it easily amongst themselves and onwards to family members.
“We need to make sure that we minimise cases of flu throughout this winter in particular. All febrile illnesses need to be suppressed as much as possible. This vaccine is safe and effective. While there were problems with the delivery and availability of adult flu vaccines GPs around the country have supplies of the nasal vaccine for children so please make contact and find out about flu vaccination clinics.”
Dr Ni Dhalaigh said that it was a quick, easy and non-painful procedure. “The vaccine is administered through a quick spray in each nostril. It is over in a matter of seconds and your child will be able to breathe normally throughout the procedure. It will work even if your child has a runny nose, sneezes or blows their nose after the vaccination.”
She said that the vaccination was critically important given the health implications posed by the flu. “Influenza is a very infectious illness caused by the flu virus. Flu spreads easily and infects both children and adults. Young children are at increased risk of developing 'flu related complications, most children who get the flu have mild symptoms but every winter a percentage of children develop complications, including pneumonia, bronchitis and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) – however the latter is rare.”
Children with chronic health conditions are at risk of serious complications from 'flu. In the last ten years, almost 5,000 children were admitted to hospital in Ireland with complications of 'flu. Of these, almost 200 children had to have treatment in intensive care and 40 children died.
The 'flu vaccine for children has been given to children in the US since 2003 and in the UK since 2013.