Harris To Make Flu Vaccine Free For Kids And At-Risk Groups

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Amid fears of the seasonal flu adding to problems with ICU and hospital capacities alongside Covid-19 over winter, the flu vaccine will offered for free to those most at risk.

Minister for Health Simon Harris announced today his intention to extend the influenza vaccine to children without charge.

Minister Harris confirmed all of those in the HSE-defined at-risk groups, aged from 6 months to 69 years inclusive will also be available to access the vaccine without charge. People over the age of 70 already have free access to the vaccine.

The vaccination will also be available to all children between the ages of two and 12 inclusive.

Mr Harris said that work is underway to plan and give effect to this policy as soon as possible, amid fears that the flu could present a “significant challenge” to the healthcare system.

Minister Harris said:

“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.
“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.”