Galway Senator Aisling Dolan has called on the Minister for Health to launch a media campaign to increase uptake of the flu vaccine among children in the next few weeks.
The Fine Gael senator told the Seanad yesterday that she is concerned that there is only 20% take-up on the flu vaccine for children at a national level.
After speaking to general practitioners in Galway and Roscommon, she believes that there is also a low uptake in her constituency.
“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 uptake 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.”
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.
“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.
“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.”