Jack Quann
Jack Quann

07.41 11 Aug 2020


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There are calls for a special effort to vaccinate children ahead of schools re-opening here.

Professor Karina Butler is chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC).

She told Newstalk Breakfast a new nasal flu vaccine is coming into force.

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"The main reason is we want to protect children from the diseases that we've struggled so hard to suppress - such as meningitis, such as measles, all of those diseases that are in the primary immunisation schedule.

"So it's really important that we keep the childhood vaccination programme going, as it has been doing.

"There was no pause from GPs in terms of giving the infants their primary vaccination series.

"The school programme was interrupted a little during the last six months because of the restrictions, but in fact there have been major efforts put into place over the summer to catch up on that - and plans for it going forward into the autumn."

"I think first of all make sure they're up to date with all their vaccines, and if anyone has fallen behind please contact you local immunisation office".

"The new vaccine that's coming into the programme this autumn is the nasal flu vaccine, which is going to be offered to all children up to 12 years of age.

"And as we know, every year we see an upsurge in the number of flu cases.

"We talk about having bad seasons and worse seasons - sometimes we get a lot of cases that usually begin somewhere towards later autumn to winter.

"Up to now, the flu vaccine by injection has been available for those that are considered at higher risk, and now there is a nasal flu vaccine.

"It is a live, attenuated - that's a weakened form of the virus - given into the nose by drops for children".

"And that might help reduce that burden: first of all it'll reduce the incidence of flu for children, which is great.

"It'll reduce the onward spread within their families, but also it'll reduce the number of fevers that will add to confusion as we go through the next season with COVID around".

"Yes - most children who get flu may have a relatively mild and uncomfortable illness.

"But every year we have children who end up in hospital significantly ill with flu, or with a complication of flu or a secondary bacterial infection.

"The flu is not harmless, it has potential to cause serious infection.

"And of course flu spreads very significantly, as we've been familiar with, from person to person and definitely from children to others in the family and to those who may be at risk".

'The flu is not harmless' - Call for children to be vaccinated ahead of school re-openings

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More information can be found here

Main image: File photo of a nurse with a flu vaccine, 24-07-2020. Picture by: David Cheskin/PA Wire/PA Images

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