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HSE is encouraging all children aged 2-17 to get free nasal flu vaccine

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The childrens’ flu vaccine is administered by nasal spray

The childrens’ flu vaccine is administered by nasal spray

The childrens’ flu vaccine is administered by nasal spray

The Health Service Executive (HSE) is asking parents of all children aged two to 17 to get the nasal spray flu vaccine.

Children are twice as likely to get the flu as adults, so the HSE is offering the vaccine free of charge to all children in this age group.

Parents can bring their children to get the vaccine from their GP or pharmacy from this month until the middle of February 2022.

In Ireland, between 2009 and 2019, the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) reported that 4,750 children needed hospital treatment because of complications of flu, 183of these were admitted to intensive care and 41 children died.

Symptoms of flu in children include a high temperature, muscle pains, a headache, and extreme tiredness.

Children also carry the flu virus in their system longer than adults do. It can spread easily to other children, like those in day-care centres and schools, and to older and vulnerable people around them.

The HSE has said it’s safe for children aged 12 to 17 years to get the flu vaccine at the same time as the Covid-19 vaccine if they have not yet received it yet.

Dr Aparna Keegan, who is the public health medicine and flu lead for the HSE’s National Immunisation Office, said flu is a “serious illness that can be dangerous in children”.

She added: “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.”

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