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Flu vaccine can protect children who receive it, as well as younger siblings - research

The HSE is urging all those at risk to get vaccinated.

CHILDREN UNDER THE age of two are significantly more at risk of contracting influenza if they have older siblings, new research has shown.

The UK Public Health Agency (PHA) has said that the flu vaccine can protect children who receive it, as well as their younger siblings.

The flu virus spreads through the air when people cough and sneeze without covering their nose and mouth.

With children of all ages mixing at parent and toddler groups, nurseries and childminders, and because young children don’t always cover their noses or mouths when coughing or sneezing the virus can spread very quickly among them, PHA has warned.

The flu can cause the same symptoms in children as it does with adults – fever, chills, aching muscles and joints, headache and extreme tiredness.

Complications arising from the flu can include bronchitis, pneumonia and painful middle ear infection. In severe cases, which are incredibly rare, flu can lead to disability and even death.

The PHA has said that younger children are more at risk and more likely to end up in hospital if they get the flu.

However, PHA’s research suggests that babies and young children can be better protected if parents take up the opportunity to get older siblings vaccinated.

Calls to get vaccinated 

The HSE is urging those in at-risk groups to get vaccinated against the flu.

Those include everyone over the age of 65, anyone over six months of age with a long-term illness, pregnant women, residents of nursing homes and healthcare workers.

In addition to the seasonal flu vaccination, some people in the at-risk groups may also need pneumococcal vaccine which is available from GPs.

The HSE provides both vaccinations free of charge for all those in the at-risk groups.

“The vaccine reduces infection and associated illnesses and hospitalisation. Flu is very infectious and can cause potentially serious illnesses,” Dr Anne Clarke of the HSE said.

“Anyone who gets flu should stay at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and use over-the-counter flu remedies to ease symptoms. People in high-risk categories should contact their GP if they develop flu symptoms,” she said.

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