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Home » Children's Health » Putting a halt to the flu interrupting our everyday life

Stephen McMahon

Chairman, Irish Patients’ Association

This autumn marks the start of a significant flu season with an upsurge in both flu and Covid-19 expected to put the health service under enormous pressure.

Tuesday, 11th October 2022: Experts predict that the Irish health service is set to be put under enormous pressure this winter with an upsurge in both flu and Covid-19. The Irish Patients Association (IPA), alongside Sports Pundit Marty Morrissey and Pharmacist Laura Dowling (also known as @fabulouspharmacist on social media), launch a new campaign to highlight the importance of the children’s flu vaccine this winter. The ‘Flunited’ campaign is encouraging parents and guardians of children aged 2–17 years old to join the team and make a collective effort to give flu the red card. 

They are urging parents to book with their GP or local pharmacy this week as the children’s flu vaccine will be available from next Monday, 17th October.

In the last 10 years in Ireland alone, almost 5,000 children were admitted to the hospital with complications of the flu.1 Almost 200 children had treatment in intensive care and 40 died.2 While most children who get the flu will have mild symptoms, some can develop complications such as pneumonia or bronchitis and may need to go to the hospital. Children, especially younger children, are more likely than adults to suffer severe flu complications. Vaccination is key when it comes to protecting others such as siblings, parents, grandparents and those vulnerable to infections. 

Image provided by Flunited Campaign

Speaking at the launch, Morrissey comments: “As someone who is around the country at various games and sporting events, I see the huge benefit sport brings to kids and communities. Everyday life is disrupted when children are sick for long periods, out of creche and school, along with hobbies and sports — this impacts parents in terms of work and routine. We all have a responsibility to do our part to stop the spread of flu and not get left on the bench this winter, so join the Flunited team, and get your child vaccinated against the flu!”

Stephen McMahon, IPA, says: “Over the last years, we have witnessed firsthand what can be accomplished when we all come together with a common purpose. As a result of the groundbreaking Covid-19 vaccine, we were able to protect not only ourselves but the most vulnerable in our society from a serious illness. Our campaign aims to highlight the importance of the flu vaccine for children, to both parents and guardians. Experts are predicting a surge in both Covid-19 and flu this year which will put our health service under enormous pressure. We have a real opportunity to change this narrative and become proactive advocates of our own and each other’s health.” 

Dowling adds: “While most children who get the flu have mild symptoms, there is always a risk of complication, particularly for children and young people with chronic health conditions. The flu vaccine not only helps to protect children but also helps to protect others. Contact your GP or participating pharmacists for more information. Let’s all work together to protect the vulnerable this flu season.”

IPU Head of Professional Services, Clare Fitzell comments: “Pharmacists play an important role in minimising infection rates in our communities. Children are twice as likely as adults to get the flu and are also more likely than adults to get severe complications from the flu. Flu vaccination is quick and easy for children. Because it is administered via a nasal spray, there are no scary needles or pain involved. The influenza virus changes slightly each year, and there is no guarantee that a flu vaccine that your child got in previous years will offer them protection from the strains of the virus that will hit Ireland during this year’s flu season. Therefore, an annual vaccine is essential, and most children need only one dose of the vaccine each year.”

The ‘Flunited’ flu awareness campaign has been sponsored on an unrestricted basis by AstraZeneca.

The vaccine is available for 2–17 years old at participating pharmacies nationwide and GP practices. For further information please visit:

The Irish Patients’ Association (IPA), founded in 1995, was Ireland’s first cross-disease patient advocacy group. The IPA’s mission is to keep the patient at the centre of the healthcare system.
To contact the Irish Patients Association, please email: [email protected]

[1] HSE
[2] HSE

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