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“HSE Encourages Children and Teens to Receive Free Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine Ahead of Christmas”

The Health Service Executive (HSE) is urging children and teenagers to avail themselves of a complimentary nasal spray flu vaccine before the Christmas season. The vaccine is accessible to all individuals aged two to 17, with a notable inclusion of those aged 13–17 for the first time. Participating GP practices and pharmacies are offering the vaccine, and school-based vaccinations are available for children in senior infants and all primary-age special schools.

Anticipating an increase in flu and winter viruses, the HSE emphasised the importance of proactive vaccination. Dr. Aparna Keegan, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at the HSE National Immunisation Office, stated, “We anticipate that flu, among other winter viruses, will begin to circulate more widely as we see an increase in socialising with friends and family over Christmas.” The age limit for the children’s flu vaccine has been extended to cover those aged 13 to 17 to address this potential risk.

Dr. Keegan highlighted the susceptibility of children to flu and their role in its transmission. Vaccinating children not only protects them but also safeguards their families, including siblings, parents, and grandparents, as well as those who are vulnerable. The nasal vaccine is administered by spraying it once into each nostril, with the HSE noting that many children find it ticklish.

Dr. Keegan underscored the seriousness of flu, especially for children, citing nearly 1,200 kids under the age of 15 admitted to the hospital with flu during the previous season. She emphasised the potential serious consequences of flu in children and dispelled the misconception that flu is a mild illness. The low uptake of the flu vaccine is attributed to the misunderstanding of its severity, emphasising the need for comprehensive protection against potential complications.

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