Senator Aisling Dolan has called on the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, to launch, with immediate effect, a media campaign to increase up-take of the flu vaccine among children in the next few weeks.
The Fine Gael Senator for Galway-Roscommon told the Seanad that she is concerned that there is only twenty percent take-up on the flu vaccine for children at a national level and having spoken to local general practitioners in her constituency, that these low numbers are being reflected there.
“I’m calling on the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly and the Department of Health officials to develop an immediate targeted television, print and social media campaign to increase uptake up in the next few weeks so that more parents bring their children to get the nasal spray vaccine.
“It is crucial to encourage parents to bring children for an appointment with GPs or Pharmacists. The nasal spray makes it easy for children to take. And best of all, it’s free for children aged two to twelve years,” Senator Dolan remarked.
Senator Dolan outlined that families will be coming together at Christmas and it is crucial that parents know that there is no possibility of children passing the winter flu to older loved ones.
“It’s extremely infectious, it passes from person to person and we deal with it every winter period. Children who are sick miss out on creche, schooldays, playing with friends and they can get serious complications of the flu. So, children can get admitted to hospital with follow on bronchitis and pneumonia.
“In the last 10 years, the HSE have noted that 5,000 children were admitted to hospital due to complications from the flu and some with serious consequences,” Senator Dolan added, saying that this will help with in keeping people out of hospital and keeping beds free for those in need during this Covid-19 pandemic.
“GPs have expressed concern on the short shelf-life of the winter flu nasal spray; only 18 weeks. They have the capacity to deliver, however we need a coordinated campaign; a national campaign to increase the take-up for the nasal spray.
“Also if you’re a parent, I would urge you to bring your children for the free nasal spray for winter flu,” Senator Dolan concluded.
Funding for Remote Working Project in Ballinasloe
Meanwhile, Senator Dolan, has welcomed funding for a remote working project in Ballinasloe approved under the Just Transition Fund which will help attract key investment and create sustainable job opportunities.
“I’m absolutely delighted with close to half a million euro investment for my hometown of Ballinasloe. This is the largest funding to date for BACD with the Pulse Hubs Remote Working project. I’ve worked closely with a number of the groups and with the BACD team on this proposal. It will bring jobs with people working from remote working hubs based in the middle of town and this is a vote of confidence in Ballinasloe as a location for investment.”
Pulse Hubs will lead to the creation of co-working and remote working spaces in Ballinasloe, supporting people in the catchment area of East Galway, South Roscommon and Westmeath to work remotely.
“This funding will breathe life into existing premises and establish a dynamic network to drive enterprise, innovation and start-ups,” Senator Dolan added.
Seamus Duffy, Chairperson of BACD, explained that the Remote Hub funding would allow the development of a professional facility in Ballinasloe to help those that are working remotely.
“Given the location of Ballinasloe, the centre takes in the areas of East Galway, South Roscommon and Westmeath. It is going to be a blended mix of hot desking and office spaces.
“The idea is that people using the facility will be able to complement one another. Within the existing centre, we have a mix of people with various skills that can help and support.
“Over 75 percent of individuals working remotely that we surveyed said they would use it. Working from home was a novelty at the beginning of lockdown but we want to make this a home from home where there will be no distractions,” Mr Duffy commented.
It is estimated that it will take approximately 12 months for the facility to be formally established but Mr Duffy stated that there will be demand for hubs like that in Ballinasloe post Covid-19 as the working culture has changed forever.
“It is clear that larger multinational companies will not be using prime and expensive office space as much as they did in the past and will use facilities like ours in the future. The aim is to get people working in Ballinasloe town centre which will increase footfall and have a positive knock-on effect for existing business,” Mr Duffy concluded.