As Ireland eases visiting restrictions this weekend, a Senator has called on people to continue to adhere to social distancing but to avail of the free winter flu nasal spray vaccine in the coming days and weeks. Fine Gael Senator for Roscommon-Galway Aisling Dolan has urged parents of children and teenagers to take up the nasal spray for the winter flu before Christmas.
It comes after the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, announced the extension of the free nasal spray for the winter flu to children up to the age of 17. Previously, all children aged from 2 to 12 years inclusive were given free access to flu vaccines. This has now has been extended to include all children between the ages of 2 and 17. The LAIV (Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine) vaccine will be administered to children through a single spray in each nostril rather than an injection.
The free nasal spray for the flu is available at GPs and pharmacies. Parents are asked to bring their children for vaccination before the end of January. Senator Dolan said that it is particularly important that children and teenagers get vaccinated before mixing with older relatives over the Christmas period. “It’s free, easy and you are keeping your children safe. Winter flu can have serious complications for children with pneumonia and bronchitis.”
Senator Dolan added: “To date since October, over 190,000 LAIV vaccines have been given to children aged from 2 to 12. Over 460,000 doses have been distributed to GPs and pharmacists and appointments for vaccination can be made immediately. I would urge families to avail of this free vaccine.”
Senator Dolan has called on people to adhere to social distancing over Christmas. “It is important that we reduce our number of close contacts before going home to visit parents and grandparents as well as wearing masks and washing our hands. In addition, keeping a 2 metre distance from people will all be crucial to keeping everyone safe this Christmas & New Year. We do know that 2021 will be a better and brighter year and we will have access to a vaccine to combat Covid-19, however it will take many months to allow a full national roll-out. Every action we take will make a difference so plan ahead to keep people safe and have a safe and healthy Christmas with your closest loved ones.”
The vaccine is available from your local GP and medical centre as well as local pharmacists. Parents should call ahead and make an appointment.
Niamh Murphy, Pharmacist at Murphy’s Total Health Medical Hall, Ballinasloe, County Galway is a member of the Irish Pharmacy Union Executive Committee and is urging people to get the flu vaccine. “Flu is a highly contagious virus which is easily spread from person to person. Children are more likely than adults to suffer severe complications of winter flu. It’s important to protect children and adults over Christmas and you can do this by availing of the free nasal spray flu vaccine.”