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22 May 2022

Free flu vaccine to be extended but not to everybody in Ireland

The flu vaccine is to be extended to a number of groups in Ireland free but universal free vaccination is not on the cards at this point.

The Minister for Health Simon Harris TD announced on Monday, May 18 the extension of the influenza vaccination programme to children. The vaccination will be available to all children aged from 2 to 12 years inclusive.

He also confirmed that all of those in the HSE-defined at-risk groups, aged from 6 months to 69 years inclusive will also be able to access the vaccine without charge.

Everybody aged 70 and over already have access without charges.

Work is underway to plan and give effect to this policy and further information will be provided when arrangements have been finalised.

HSE-definded Influenza at-risk groups

Vaccination is strongly recommended for persons aged 65 and over;

Pregnant women (vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy);

Adults and children aged 6 months and older with a long-term health condition such as:
o         Chronic heart disease, including acute coronary syndrome
o         Chronic liver disease
o         Chronic renal failure
o         Cancer patients
o         Chronic respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, moderate or severe asthma or bronchopulmonary dysplasia
o         Chronic neurological disease including multiple sclerosis, hereditary and degenerative disorders of the central nervous system
o         Diabetes mellitus
o         Down syndrome
o         Haemoglobinopathies
o         Morbid obesity i.e. body mass index of 40 or over
o         Immunosuppression due to disease or treatment, including asplenia or splenic dysfunction and
o        cancer patients

Children aged 6 months and older:
o         with moderate to severe neurodevelopmental disorders such as cerebral palsy and intellectual disability
o         on long-term aspirin therapy (because of the risk of Reyes syndrome)

o         Residents of nursing homes and other long stay institutions
o         Healthcare workers including all GP practice staff
o         Carers and household contacts of people with increased medical risk
o         People with regular contact with pigs, poultry or waterfowl

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