Teen Irish soccer star Ellen Molloy advocates for childrens flu vaccine

All children aged 2-17 years can now avail of the flu vaccine free of charge from their GP or pharmacist. Joining the campaign today to advocate that all children get the free flu vaccine, is teen soccer superstar, 16 year old Ellen Molloy who has represented Ireland at a senior international level.

Ellen, who debuted for Ireland's senior international football team against the Ukraine in October this year, joins the collective voice of medical experts, Government Ministers, TDs and Senators to encourage parents to get their children vaccinated against the flu this winter.

The nasal spray flu vaccine for children will help to protect them against flu and reduce the spread of flu to others, including vulnerable younger siblings, parents and grandparents. If enough children are vaccinated against flu, fewer children and adults will need to see their doctor or need treatment in hospital because of flu. This is very important for our health services especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Following the receipt of the nasal spray flu vaccine in south Dublin's Cabinteely Park, 16-year old Irish Soccer International Ellen Molloy said; "Getting the children's flu vaccine is so simple. I got it standing in the middle of a park, it's that easy. I didn't feel a thing either, it's just a quick spray up each nostril. I'd definitely recommend all children and teenagers involved in sport like me to get the flu vaccine this winter. The lockdowns have been hard for us and in between times life doesn't go back to normal, there are still restrictions. Going to soccer training and playing matches has helped to keep me physically and mentally healthy. The last thing I'd want now is to catch the flu and be out of the game for a few weeks. And it's not just me I'm protecting from the flu either, it's my family, my team mates and anyone else I meet in the community."

Over the last 7-years, the UK Government has provided the nasal spray flu vaccine for free to children in school and local health centre settings. The benefit to children, the community and frontline healthcare at reducing the incidence of flu has seen the programme being renewed year after year. In fact in its first year alone, research in the UK showed that amongst pilot area primary school children there was:

  • 94% decrease in flu-like consultations with GPs
  • 74% lower respiratory related attendances at A&E Hospital departments
  • 93% lower confirmed flu virus hospital admissions
  • 59% lower flu-like consultations with GPs amongst adults

Dr. Eleanor Galvin is the south Dublin GP who administered the children's flu vaccine to Ellen Molloy in Cabinteely Park, and mum to three teenagers herself. She said; "The extension of the children's flu vaccine to teenagers is a brilliant idea, especially with Covid numbers climbing again in what looks like Ireland's third wave of the pandemic. The time is now for children aged from 2 all the way up to 17 years, to get the flu vaccine. There is no shortage of the nasal flu vaccine and it can be easily obtained through your GP or pharmacy. The children's flu vaccine is free, painless and your children's best protection against the flu virus. The flu season typically peaks in January and February here in Ireland, and with all the people coming home to Ireland from abroad over the Christmas period, we are all at greater risk. The message is simple, don't delay get it today."

The HSE reports that over the last 10-years, over 5,000 children in Ireland were hospitalised with flu, while a further 40 died. Children are twice as likely to suffer from serious flu complications than adults, and are much more likely to catch the virus too.

The HSE and medical experts are keen to point out to parents that you can't get the flu from the flu vaccine. A small number of people might experience some mild side effects, including a runny nose, headache or temperature which can be treated with paracetamol or ibuprofen.