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HSE rolls out walk-in flu vaccines for children after 700 hospitalisations over winter

The walk-in clinics will be available at no charge for children from age two to 17 until 23 January.

WALK-IN FLU vaccine clinics for children are operating this week in 10 counties following rising levels of flu among young people.

The HSE has reported rising numbers of flu cases and 700 instances of children under the age of 14 being hospitalised with the virus this winter.

The walk-in clinics will be available at no charge for children from age two to 17 in community vaccine centres in addition to participating GPs and pharmacies until 23 January.

The vaccine, which is delivered as a nasal spray, is being offered at walk-in clinics in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Offaly, Sligo, Waterford and Wexford on specific days, which can be found on the HSE website.

After 23 January, only children with medical conditions that put them at risk of serious illness from flu will be able to get a vaccine.

The HSE is advising parents to avail of the vaccine for their children as it anticipates that the flu will continue to circulate for several more weeks.

“While most children who catch flu have mild symptoms, flu can sometimes lead to serious complications such as pneumonia or bronchitis in some children,” a statement from the health service said.

“Children, especially young children, are also more likely than adults to get severe complications of flu.”

Separately, the Chief Medical Officer cautioned parents this week to keep children with flu-like symptoms at home if possible to avoid spreading the illness to others.

Hospitals have faced overcrowding in recent weeks due to cases of flu and other respiratory illnesses such as RSV. 

Dr Aparna Keegan, Specialist in Public Health Medicine and Flu Lead at the HSE National Immunisation Office, explained that “flu is a serious illness that can be dangerous in children too”.

“We are seeing rising cases of flu in the community so we are encouraging parents of children aged 2-17 to get their children vaccinated to protect them while there is still time,” Dr Keegan said.

“The nasal spray flu vaccine is a very safe and effective vaccine and helps your child’s immune system produce antibodies that fight infection. It cannot give your child the flu.

“If your child has had the flu vaccine and they come into contact with flu virus, these antibodies will help them fight the flu and reduce the risk of getting sick or needing to go to hospital.

“The vaccination process is a simple nasal spray and is given by spraying the vaccine once into each of the child’s nostrils. Getting the nasal spray flu vaccine is a safe, effective and a pain-free way to protect your child from flu this winter.”

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