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File image of a two-year-old child receiving a nasal spray flu vaccine Alamy Stock Photo
flu vaccine

Free nasal spray flu vaccine programme extended to children aged between 13 and 17

The change takes effect from today and means all children aged 2 to 17 are now eligible for the flu vaccine.

FREE FLU VACCINES have been extended to include children aged between 13 and 17.

The change takes effect from today and means all children aged 2 to 17 are now eligible for the flu vaccine as part of the 2023/2024 seasonal flu vaccination programme.

All children in this cohort are offered the nasal spray flu vaccine, a quick and pain-free method that sees the child being administered the vaccine as a spray up their nose.

It is available through GPs and pharmacies, and to some groups of children in primary school settings.

The Department of Health notes that the vaccine also reduces the risk of children transmitting infection to others, including older, more vulnerable people.

An injectable vaccine is available to other eligible groups, including those aged 65 and over, people with certain health conditions, and healthcare workers.

It takes two weeks for the full protective effects of the vaccine to kick in, and as a result all eligible persons are encouraged to top up their protection as soon as possible.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, said: “As children are more at risk of contracting the ‘flu and becoming seriously ill from it, it is vital that they are protected, and enabled to protect those around them from becoming infected.”

He added that the nasal spray flu vaccine “will help protect our children, our families and communities, keeping us safer and healthier throughout the winter months”.

Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer Professor Breda Smyth noted that “vaccines are the best means of protection available for us and for those who are vulnerable in our communities”.

She also advised that vaccines be combined with other measures such as regular hand washing, coughing or sneezing into our elbows, and staying at home when sick.

“As we head towards the peak of the respiratory virus season, there is now a small window of opportunity to increase vaccination levels and to boost protection against flu,” said Smyth.  

She urged all eligible persons to make an appointment for their flu vaccine today and added that some groups of people are also eligible for a COVID-19 booster that can be administered at the same time.

She also issued a reminder to healthcare workers that free flu and COVID vaccines are available in healthcare settings and at walk-in vaccination clinics.