The Minister for Health Simon Harris TD has today announced plans to extend the influenza vaccine programme to all children aged between 2 and 12 years.
The Minister has also confirmed that all people in the HSE-defined at-risk groups, aged from 6 months to 69 years inclusive will also be able to access the vaccine without charge.
This includes pregnant women, people with certain medical conditions, residents of nursing homes and other long stay institutions, and healthcare workers.
Outlining the details, the Minister warned that a resurgence of COVID-19 during the coming flu season could present a significant challenge to the delivery of healthcare services in the coming winter.
“That is why officials from my Department have been working closely with the HSE to put in place an expansion of the seasonal influenza vaccination programme for winter 2020/21.
“Flu is a potentially fatal illness and I want to ensure that the most vulnerable in our communities are protected.
“When the time comes, I will be strongly encouraging those from at-risk groups to get vaccinated to protect themselves and, in the case of health care workers, those they care for, from exposure to the flu,” he said.
“The flu vaccine is the only defence against the flu and is the best option for vulnerable people against the life-threatening complications of flu,” the Minister added.
Work is now underway to plan and give effect to the policy and the Department of Health says further information will be provided when arrangements have been finalised.