The flu vaccine will be delivered in a “much easier” way for young children this year in the form of a nasal spray, according to a medical professor.
Around 750,000 children aged between two and 12 are set to receive the flu vaccine for free via a nasal spray in October.
Car park clinics may be used to help GPs rollout the vaccination programme ahead of the winter season, according to the Irish Independent.
Chair of the national immunisation advisory committee Professor Karina Butler says the new spray could encourage uptake: “Up to now, the vaccine that has been used has been by injection, and there’s always a downside to injections.
“Children simply don’t like getting them. Even for parents it’s hard to watch their children getting them at times. This now comes as a couple of drops into each nostril, so that is a much, much easier way to deliver the vaccine for children.”
Professor Luke O’Neill from the school of immunology at Trinity College Dublin says the rollout should be extended to older groups too: “People should be vaccinated against the flu now.
“There’s a free vaccine for under twelves, if you’re over 70 it was always free. I’d be rolling out that vaccine now to anybody over 50, [they] should be vaccinated against the flu.”
Less than half
It comes as research conducted by Empathy Research on behalf of Lloyds Pharmacy found that less than half of Irish adults said they intended to get the flu vaccine this year.
The survey of 1,027 adults found almost three quarters said the Covid-19 pandemic had made them more aware of the importance of being vaccinated against viruses such as the flu.
However, just 46 per cent said they were planning on getting the flu vaccine this year. Among those who were planning to receive the vaccine, 59 per cent said this would be the first time they received it.
Denis O’Driscoll, Lloyds Pharmacy superintendent pharmacist said: “We are encouraging the at-risk groups as always, but now more than ever we are calling on those who fall outside of those categories to play their part.”
“There is a disconnect with just under half of adults [saying] that they are planning on getting the flu vaccine this year. In order for the vaccine to be as effective as possible, we need as many of the population as possible to get vaccinated.
“This will have a really positive impact, as getting vaccinated yourself may also protect people around you: loved ones, family and the community, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions.”
The pharmacy is offering vaccinations for children aged two to 18 using the intranasal vaccine this year, in addition to the traditional intra-muscular injection.
Each year the seasonal flu vaccine contains four common influenza virus strains. The flu virus changes each year and therefore a new flu vaccine must be administered each year.