Flu vaccines should be free for everybody this winter, a Fine Gael senator has said.
Martin Conway, the party's health spokesperson in the Seanad, says officials should be "running the same campaign as we have been running for COVID-19 to encourage people to take the flu vaccine".
October until April is typically considered flu season.
There were no confirmed cases of flu last year, a situation which experts have put down to the public health measures that were in place to combat COVID-19.
However, there are concerns it and other respiratory viruses could become more prominent this year now that society has reopened and many restrictions have been eased.
Some doctors are also concerned it will be difficult to differentiate between COVID-19 and common respiratory illnesses such as flu.
Currently, flu vaccines are available for free to vulnerable groups - including children, pregnant women, people with underlying health conditions and everybody aged over 65.
However, Senator Conway believes that needs to be expanded to everybody.
He said: "It's an absolute certainty that if we can increase the numbers receiving the flu jab - to the same extend as those who've received the COVID-19 vaccine... we will see a reduction in the numbers presenting at A&E.
"I don't believe there should be any barrier - that's why I believe being charged for the flu vaccine should be phased out and eliminated."
He suggested that charging for the vaccine is "penny wise and pound foolish".
His comments come amid growing concerns over the pressure the recent spike in COVID cases is putting on the hospital system.
Currently, there are 497 patients with COVID-19 being treated in Irish hospitals, including 99 in ICU.