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Almost eight in 10 parents say their child will get new nasal spray flu vaccine this year

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Vaccination via a nasal spray is a non-invasive procedure that is easier than administering vaccines by injection. Photo: Thinkstockphotos.com

Vaccination via a nasal spray is a non-invasive procedure that is easier than administering vaccines by injection. Photo: Thinkstockphotos.com

Vaccination via a nasal spray is a non-invasive procedure that is easier than administering vaccines by injection. Photo: Thinkstockphotos.com

Almost eight in 10 parents (78pc) have said their children have either already received or will receive the free nasal flu vaccine in the next two weeks, a new survey has shown.

Over half (53pc) of parents surveyed were not aware of the increased chance of serious complications when it comes to children suffering from the flu virus.

The HSE reports that over the last 10 years, over 5,000 children in Ireland were admitted to hospital as very unwell with flu.

The nasal spray will be offered for free to all children between the ages of two and 12, and is available in GPs and pharmacies nationwide.

The nasal flu vaccine is new to Ireland but has been offered to children in the UK since 2013.

The vaccine is easily administered with a single spray in each nostril of a child's nose and many parents of children already vaccinated say their child compared it to a tickle up their nose.

Dr. Eleanor Galvin, a GP and mum of four said: "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."

94pc of parents surveyed were aware of the introduction of the nasal flu vaccine to this year's winter flu protection programme, with GPs and pharmacies reporting increased interest from parents in recent weeks to get their children vaccinated.

The HSE and medical experts are keen to point out to parents that you can't get the flu from the flu vaccine. A small number of people might experience some mild side effects, including a runny nose, headache or temperature which can be treated with over the counter paracetamol medicine.

Professor in Immunology at Trinity College Dublin, Dr Rachel McLoughlin said: "In this current uncertain world, it just makes sense to protect your children against the diseases that we have vaccines for and one of those is flu.

“We have a safe and easy to administer vaccine for children with no needles required, that will protect them from the virus that causes flu. A simple squirt up the nose and they are fully protected. The last thing any parent wants right now is to have a sick child that requires a trip to the hospital in the midst of this pandemic.

“Children are more likely than adults to get severe complications of flu, including pneumonia, bronchitis and painful ear infections. This is why it is so important for them to get the flu vaccine this year, when our hospitals are already under immense pressure."

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