Are you a parent? It's more important than ever to get the flu vaccine for your child this winter
It's more important to get the flu vaccine this year than ever before.
Did you know that your child can get the flu vaccine - in the form of a nasal spray in each nostril - for free from GPs and pharmacies across Ireland this winter?
The HSE has revealed that the children flu vaccine programme, which was initially made available to kids between the ages of two and 12, has been extended to include children up to the age of 17.
Take-up of the vaccine so far this year has been slower than expected, as anecdotal evidence shows that parents are less concerned about their children getting sick with the flu due to Covid-19 measures restricting movement and physical contacts.
However, Ireland is yet to reach peak flu season and the unused first batches of the children's flu vaccine are due to expire in the middle of January.
As well as keeping our children healthy and safe from the serious complications that can occur when our kids get the flu, the vaccination will then have a knock-on effect of keeping others safe from a highly contagious illness.
The flu vaccine will also prevent our health system from becoming stretched to breaking point, particularly in the midst of a pandemic, and reduce any confusion that could lead to unnecessary Covid-19 tests and the worry that comes with it.
Dr. Eleanor Galvin, a GP in a family practice and mother of four children, says, "The introduction of the children's nasal flu vaccine should be welcomed by all parents. It's free, painless and has little to no side effects.
"With our nation's COVID-19 infections still fluctuating dramatically between lockdowns, alongside the effort to keep schools open this academic year, getting the flu vaccine for your children should really be a no-brainer.
"In fact, children are twice as likely to get the flu than adults. Children who have a slight runny nose can still get the vaccine as it absorbs quickly. However children who are very unwell, or who have a temperature should wait until they feel better."
All healthy children aged between 2 - 17 years can now get the easy and painless nasal flu vaccine free of charge. Simply make an appointment with your GP or pharmacist today to make sure that your child is fully protected. Find out more about the flu vaccine for children here.