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Flu vaccine to be made free for all ‘at risk’ and children under 12

The flu vaccine will be freely available to children aged 2-12 and all at-risk groups across Laois this winter.

Minister for Justice & Equality, Charlie Flanagan, confirmed the news.

The HSE say that vaccination is strongly recommended for persons aged 65 and over; pregnant women (vaccine can be given at any stage of pregnancy); and adults and children aged 6 months and older with a long-term health conditions.

Also, residents of nursing homes and other long stay institutions; Healthcare workers including all GP practice staff; Carers and household contacts of people with increased medical risk; and People with regular contact with pigs, poultry or waterfowl

Minister Flanagan stated: “I welcome the announcement by Government to extend the influenza vaccine to all children aged from 2 to 12 years inclusive, free of charge.

“Laois/Offaly people in the HSE-defined at-risk groups, aged from 6 months to 69 years inclusive, are also entitled to get the flu jab free of charge as part of an expansion of the seasonal influenza vaccination programme for winter 2020/21.

“A second wave of Covid-19 coupled with the winter flu has the potential to overwhelm our hospitals and cause needless deaths and illness.

“Officials in the Department of Health are now working closely with the HSE to put in place an expansion of the seasonal influenza programme in Laois & Offaly for winter 2020/21 and further information will be provided when arrangements have been finalized.

“We need to ensure that vulnerable people in the constituency are adequately protected against the flu which can be fatal and can cause life-threatening complications.

“That is why I would strongly advise those in at-risk groups, as well as healthcare workers, to get themselves vaccinated this autumn.”

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.