It is estimated that 20-30% of children develop influenza every year, leading to pneumonia, bronchiolitis, croup and bronchitis. During winter 2018/2019 in Ireland, influenza illness resulted in 1,245 children being admitted to hospital.
Nine European countries, the USA, Canada, Australia and the UK recommend influenza vaccination for children.
This year Ireland, for the first time, is introducing a flu vaccination programme for all 2-12 years old, to help reduce illness during the 2020/2021 winter season.
This will be in the form of a nasal spray, live influenza (needle free) vaccination. All healthy children in this age group will require one vaccination (2 sprays).
Children in a medically at-risk group, aged between 2 and 8years 364 days old, and who have never received any flu vaccine in the past, will require 2 doses (4 sprays) of nasal vaccine – 4 weeks apart.
Medically at risk groups in children
Children are deemed at higher risk of complications of influenza if they have a diagnosis of any of the following conditions:
- chronic heart, liver or kidney disease, including nephrotic syndrome
- chronic respiratory disease, including cystic fibrosis, moderate or severe asthma or bronchopulmonary dysplasia
- chronic neurological disease including a child with a moderate to severe neurodevelopmental disorder such as cerebral palsy, spina bifida, or an intracranial shunt
- diabetes mellitus (Type 1 or Type 2)
- haemoglobinopathies eg Sickle cell anaemia
- immunosuppression due to disease or treatment (including treatment for cancer), treatment for inflammatory arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease, post splenectomy
- Down syndrome
- on long term aspirin therapy
In this exceptionally busy period for the surgery, to enable our phone lines remain free for patients who are unwell, we have set up an on-line booking system for a nasal flu vaccination clinic. This special clinic run by the GPs at Woodview, will take place in the surgery on Friday 27th November 2020. *** FLU CLINIC NOW FULL NO FURTHER APPOINTMENTS
Please note, your child must be a registered patient of Woodview Family Doctors, aged between 2 and 12 years of age, you will need one appointment per child and each child’s medical card number or PPS number. The only vaccine available at this Saturday clinic is the nasal spray vaccine.
There are very few children who should not receive this vaccination please note the list below: if your child falls into this category,(most children in this category will have frequent hospital appointments) or you are unsure, please telephone your consultant paediatrician, for their advice.
Children who should not receive intranasal live flu vaccine and receive the injection vaccine instead are:
- children who are severely immunocompromised due to disease or treatment eg cancer treatment
- children who live with someone who is severely immunosuppressed eg post stem cell transplant
- children who have a severe neutropenia ie neutrophil count < 0.5 x 109ml/l
- children on long term aspirin or salicylate drugs
- children on combination end point inhibitor drugs eg for melanoma skin cancer
Reasons to defer influenza vaccination for your child,
- If your child has a temperature, they should not receive either flu vaccine until they have recovered from their illness
- If a child has an exacerbation of their asthma with increased wheezing requiring them to use their reliever (blue) inhaler in the previous 72 hours
- If your child has had treatment of Tamiflu (antiviral medication) for treatment of an influenza like illness in the preceding 48 hours
- If your child has had in the past a severe allergic reaction to egg requiring them to be admitted to ICU in hospital, they should receive the nasal vaccine in a hospital setting not in the surgery.
Side effects :Side effects are mild but common. It is usual that post vaccination your child may develop a runny nose, decreased appetite, malaise, fever, headache and muscle pain. The fever is usually mild under 38 degrees and short lived responding to paracetamol – similar to those after other childhood vaccines. Symptoms usually only last for 24-48 hours.
Immediate allergic reactions are very rare less than 1 in 10,000 and we would ask you to remain in the vicinity of Woodview Family Doctors in your car for 15 minutes so that you can immediately return to the surgery should such an episode occur. Additional information is available at https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/immunisation/pubinfo/flu-vaccination/flu-vaccine-for-children/
Book an appointment for your child’s free flu vaccination please click here
Childhood flu vaccines : FAQs
My child is under 6 months of age : For children aged 0-6 months flu vaccination is not recommended.
My child is aged 6- 23 months old : Children aged 6 months to 23 months should have flu vaccine IF they fall into one of the medically at risk groups.(see above for list of at risk conditions)
The intranasal vaccine is not recommended for this aged group as it is a live vaccine. If your child falls into this category please make an appointment to speak with your usual GP regarding getting a free flu injection vaccine instead.
My child is aged 24 months (2 years) to under 13 years ( 12 years and 364 days)
This year the HSE have introduced a childhood nasal flu vaccine free of charge to all children aged from 2-12 years of age, regardless of whether or not they have an underlying medical condition
This is a live vaccine given by one dose (2 quick sprays) up the child’s nose. Most children will require only 1 dose, there are a small minority of children who fall into certain high risk groups who will require a second vaccination 4 weeks after their first dose.
See above for this list of medically at risk conditions.If your child has any of these conditions they will require a second dose of nasal flu vaccination.
My child is aged 13 year and older : If your child is in this age category, and falls into the medically at risk group please make an appointment to have your child receive the flu injection vaccine at the surgery.