Laois Offaly mums and dads urged to take up free flu jab offer for kids

Doing so could be vital to easing pressure on health service during a second wave of Covid-19

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

At risk groups urged to get flu vaccine

Children to be offered get flu vaccine

With the possibility a Covid-19 second wave winter, parents of children in Laois and Offaly have been urged to take up the offer of a free flu jab to protect their kids and help the health service in the process.

Laois/Offaly TD and Minister for Justice & Equality, Charlie Flanagan welcomed confirmation that the influenza vaccine will be freely available to children aged 2 to 12 and all at-risk groups across Laois & Offaly this winter.

Minister Flanagan encouraged all groups entitled to the free jab to take up the offer.

“Laois/Offaly people in the HSE-defined at-risk groups, aged from 6 months to 69 years inclusive, are also entitled to get the flu jab free of charge as part of an expansion of the seasonal influenza vaccination programme for winter 2020/21.

“A second wave of Covid-19 coupled with the winter flu has the potential to overwhelm our hospitals and cause needless deaths and illness.

“Officials in the Department of Health are now working closely with the HSE to put in place an expansion of the seasonal influenza programme in Laois & Offaly for winter 2020/21 and further information will be provided when arrangements have been finalized.

“We need to ensure that vulnerable people in the constituency are adequately protected against the flu which can be fatal and can cause life-threatening complications.

“That is why I would strongly advise those in at-risk groups, as well as healthcare workers, to get themselves vaccinated this autumn,” he said.

ADDITIONAL INFO ON THE FLU VACCINE

HSE-defined 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:
·        Chronic heart disease, including acute coronary syndrome

·        Chronic liver disease

·        Chronic renal failure

·        Cancer patients

·        Chronic respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, moderate or severe asthma or bronchopulmonary dysplasia

·        Chronic neurological disease including multiple sclerosis, hereditary and degenerative disorders of the central nervous system

·        Diabetes mellitus

·        Down syndrome

·        Haemoglobinopathies

·        Morbid obesity i.e. body mass index of 40 or over

·        Immunosuppression due to disease or treatment, including asplenia or splenic dysfunction and

·        cancer patients

Children aged 6 months and older:
·        with moderate to severe neurodevelopmental disorders such as cerebral palsy and intellectual disability

·        on long-term aspirin therapy (because of the risk of Reyes syndrome)

Residents of nursing homes and other long stay institutions

Healthcare workers including all GP practice staff

Carers and household contacts of people with increased medical risk

People with regular contact with pigs, poultry or waterfowl