Children’s Flu Vaccine – Children aged 2 to 12 can now get the nasal flu vaccine for free



HSE Children’s Flu Vaccine campaign:
Children aged 2 to 12 can now get the nasal flu vaccine for free.

The HSE  announced the first Children’s Flu Vaccine campaign in Ireland on Monday 12th October 2020. This year the flu vaccine will be offered free of charge to children aged 2-12 years. A GP or pharmacist can administer a nasal vaccine where the vaccine is sprayed up the child’s nose.

The flu vaccine will help protect your child against flu and reduce the spread of flu to others, for example their brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents. If enough children are vaccinated against flu, fewer children and adults will need to see their doctor or need treatment in hospital because of flu. This is very important for our health services especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Symptoms of flu in children include a high temperature, muscle pains, headache and extreme tiredness (fatigue). They may also have a dry cough and sore throat. It may be difficult to tell the symptoms of flu from symptoms of Covid-19. Children who are sick with flu miss days in crèche, childcare and school. They also miss out on their usual activities such as hobbies and sports. Children carry the flu virus in their system longer than adults do, and children can spread the flu virus easily to other children and to vulnerable people around them. Children are more likely than adults to get severe complications of flu. Over the last ten years in Ireland 4750 children need to be admitted to hospital because of complications of flu. 183 of these then had to go to intensive care, and, sadly 41 children died. Children with chronic health conditions are most at risk of the serious complications of flu.

The HSE has purchased 600,000 doses of the nasal flu vaccine (LAIV) for children aged 2-12 years old.  A very small number of children will not be able to get the nasal flu vaccine for medical reasons. Your child should not get the nasal flu vaccine if they:

  • Have had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the flu vaccine or any of its ingredients
  • Have severe asthma or if they have been wheezy or needed their inhaler more than usual in the three days before the vaccination
  • Are taking medicines called salicylates, which include Aspirin
  • Have a severely weakened immune system because of certain medical conditions or treatments
  • Are living with someone who has a severely weakened immune system (such as a person who is in isolation because of a recent bone marrow transplant)

If your child cannot get the flu vaccine using a nasal spray, your GP or pharmacist will talk to you about giving your child a different flu vaccine, which is given by injection.


Adults in at-risk groups:

The HSE also urges all adults in at-risk groups to get their flu vaccine. If you are at risk of the complications of flu, the flu vaccine is available to you free of charge from a GP or pharmacist. The flu vaccine is also available free of charge to healthcare workers and carers, to protect them and to prevent the spread of flu to the vulnerable people they care for.

Influenza vaccine is recommended if you:

  • Are 65 years of age and over
  • Are pregnant
  • Are a child aged 2 to 12 years (new for 2020/2021
  • Are an adult or child aged 6 months or older with a long-term health condition
  • Were born with Down syndrome
  • Live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility
  • Work in healthcare
  • Are a carer or live with someone who is at risk of flu because of a long-term health condition
  • Are a carer or live with someone who has Down syndrome
  • Are in regular contact with pigs, poultry or waterfowl should get the flu vaccine.


The 2020 / 2021 flu vaccine

This year’s seasonal flu vaccine contains protection against 4 strains of flu virus. These are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the strains most likely to be circulating this season.

The four strains are:

  • an A/Guangdong-Maonan/SWL1536/2019 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
  • an A/Hong Kong/2671/2019 (H3N2)-like virus
  • a B/Washington/02/2019 (B/Victoria lineage)-like virus
  • a B/Phuket/3073/2013 (B/Yamagata lineage)-like virus

The 2020/2021 HSE seasonal vaccination programme will offer 2 vaccines.



Latest News