Senator Aisling Dolan has called on the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly to immediately launch a media campaign to increase up-take of the flu vaccine among children in the next few weeks.
The Fine Gael Senator for Galway-Roscommon told the Seanad today, Tuesday, 24th November, that she is concerned that there is only twenty percent take-up on the flu vaccine for children at a national level and having spoken to local general practitioners in Galway and Roscommon, that these low numbers are being reflected there. “I’m calling on the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly and the Department of Health officials to develop an immediate targeted tv, print and social media campaign to increase up-take up in the next few weeks so that more parents bring their children to get the nasal spray vaccine,” said Senator Dolan.
“It is crucial to encourage parents to bring children for an appointment with GPs or Pharmacists. The nasal spray makes it easy for children to take. And best of all, it’s free for children aged two to twelve years,” said Senator Dolan.
Senator Dolan outlined that families will be coming together at Christmas and it is crucial that parents know that there is no possibility of children passing the winter flu to older loved ones. “It’s extremely infectious; it passes from person to person; we deal with it every winter period,” she continued adding; “Children who are sick miss out on creche, schooldays, playing with friends and they can get serious complications of the flu. So, children can get admitted to hospital with follow on bronchitis and pneumonia. In the last 10 years, the HSE have noted that 5,000 children were admitted to hospital due to complications from the flu and some with serious consequences,” said Senator Dolan saying that this will help with in keeping people out of hospital and keeping beds free for those in need during this Covid-19 pandemic.
Senator Dolan concluded; “GP’s have expressed concern on the short shelf-life of the winter flu nasal spray; only 18 weeks. They have the capacity to deliver, however we need a coordinated campaign; a national campaign to increase the take-up for the nasal spray. Also if you’re a parent – I would urge you to bring your children for the free nasal spray for winter flu.”