In June, the HSE announced they had ordered 1.35 million doses of the flu vaccine, a number they believe is sufficient for the expected 90% uptake among at-risk groups. At the time Minister for Health, Simon Harris, also confirmed they have also extended the vaccine to children under the age of 12.
At present, anyone aged 70 or over has access to the vaccine for free as well as those characterized as at-risk, including pregnant women and those with a long-term medical condition.
The possibility of a second wave of Covid-19 during flu season could potentially cause significant challenges within the health service with up to 500 people dying from the flu each year here in Ireland.
Influenza is not an infection to joke about; it is a serious illness and can be prevented. While most children who get flu have mild symptoms, complications can include pneumonia, bronchitis and in rare cases encephalitis otherwise known as inflammation of the brain.
Here is everything you need to know about the children's flu vaccine:
How much is it, and where can I get it?
This year the flu vaccine for children aged between two and twelve will be free, and your child can get the vaccine by simply booking in with your family doctor or at your local pharmacy from early October until the end of December.
What if my child is scared of needles?
Don’t worry, the vaccine is given as a single spray in each nostril, and your child will not need to sniff or take a deep breath. It’s pretty straight forward.
What are the side effects of the vaccine?
As with all vaccinations, there can be mild side effects from a runny or stuffy nose, a fever, headache or muscles aches for a few days. If your child experiences a temperature or a headache, you can give them paracetamol or ibuprofen.
What if my child is sick the day of our scheduled vaccine?
If your child is unwell on the day of their vaccine, it is recommended to delay it until they feel better again. Simply ring your GP or chemist and ask to reschedule. Also, if your child has a blocked or runny nose, it may prevent the vaccine from getting into their system.
Can my child catch the flu from the nasal flu vaccine?
There is no evidence to suggest that you can catch the flu from the nasal flu vaccine. If your child displays symptoms of flu following their vaccination, they most likely caught it before receiving it.
Is the vaccine safe?
Every vaccine is tested thoroughly to make sure they are safe and won’t harm your child. There is no mercury, aluminium or thiomersal in the flu vaccine this year. However, there is a small amount of gelatin.
What if my child is under two and high risk?
If your child is aged six months to two years and is in the high-risk category, they will be offered the flu injection instead. The nasal spray flu vaccine is not licensed for children under the age of two.
Visit the HSE website for a full run-down of details regarding the flu vaccine for 2020.