A Cork GP has advised parents of young children to have their kids avail of the nasal flu vaccine following a 10-fold increase in the rate of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) in children in the last year.
The Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV) nasal spray vaccine is approved for children aged two to 17 years.
Medical Director of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) Diarmuid Quinlan said that while the uptake for the nasal spray vaccine has been good, that there is still “a substantial number of children who could avail of it”.
Speaking to, the Glanmire-based GP said: “One of the messages that I would like to suggest to parents is that while many aren't particularly worried that their child may get the flu, they might say look if they get the flu they’ll be fine, and the vast majority of children will be fine, but one of the benefits that they found in the UK of lots of children getting the flu vaccine is that firstly their child is a lot less likely to get sick but if they get sick and they’ve had the flu vaccine, then the parents say well this isn’t the flu it must be something else, and the doctor says this probably isn't the flu it must be something else and the something else we’re worried about could be meningitis or sepsis.
Dr Quinlan said that it is “hugely important” as there are some children who will get serious illnesses and that having the nasal spray vaccine allows parents and GPs to consider that it is most likely not symptoms of the flu and that there may be something more seriously wrong with the child.
It comes as the HSE recently shared that the rate of RSV in the past week was 10 times what it was one year ago.
Dr Quinlan said that while last year the rate was particularly low, that the rates of respiratory infections in small children “is far higher than it was”, which he said is partly because these children didn’t get all their immunity a year ago.
He said that surgeries are “really busy” at the moment that there is “an awful lot of respiratory illness, particularly among children”.