Parents urged not to be complacent about swine flu risks to children

Parents are being warned not to be complacent about the risks of swine flu because rates among children are still “extremely high”.

That’s according to the HSE West which will offer the vaccine to all children over the coming weeks and months.

A spokesperson says children remain at higher risk of hospitalisation and complications from the virus.

“Getting the vaccine protects a child from swine flu and it also protects the people around them.”

Children under six months of age cannot be given the vaccine but their household family members (ie, other children, parents, grandparents, au pairs, etc, ) should get it to help protect these children, according to the HSE.

The health authority has begun its school vaccination programme. Smaller schools have been invited to attend the mass vaccination clinics while vaccination teams are visiting larger and medium sized schools.

People are being asked to be patient and wait for directions from their school or to book online at www.swineflu.ie for vaccination at one of the HSE clinics. Information packs are being distributed to schools, including consent forms for parents/guardians.

The swine flu vaccination clinic at St Brigid’s Hospital, Ballinasloe, will open on Mondays and Tuesdays only from this week. Some of the staff from this clinic will be redeployed to work with the school vaccination teams in Co Galway.

The health authority says it is important that everyone remembers the simple ways to avoid spreading flu.

People can stay healthy and stop the spread of infection by avoiding close contact with those who appear unwell and have fever and a cough, covering your nose and mouth with clean tissues when coughing or sneezing, and washing your hands with soap and water or alcohol based hand cleaners regularly.

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