Children may be offered vaccine to lower flu risk
All children over the age of two may be offered the flu vaccine from next year, it has emerged.
A panel of experts attached to the Royal College of Physicians, who advise the HSE on vaccinations, is to examine the proposal.
It follows moves by health authorities in Northern Ireland to routinely offer the flu vaccine to all children aged two and over since September, 2014.
The incidence of flu in Northern Ireland has fallen by 26pc since then, but has increased by 185pc in the Republic.
Currently, just at-risk children who are ill or have long-term conditions are advised to get the vaccine.
However, the UK and Northern Ireland now make it optional for all children, regardless of health status.
The flu vaccine can be given to children in the form of a nasal spray and is dubbed an "ouch-free jab".
Children play a part in the spread of the virus to vulnerable members of the family, including grandparents.
Youngsters under 15 accounted for 1,445 confirmed cases of flu last winter, although it is having most impact on the over 65s this time.
The extension of free flu vaccines to children would help reduce admissions to hospitals and alleviate some of the annual trolley crisis problems.
There were around 400 patients on trolleys again in hospitals yesterday morning.
HSE figures showed 32 were waiting for a bed for more than 24 hours.