Given the potential for the winter flu season in 2020/2021 to coincide with a resurgence of COVID, and the importance of minimising hospital attendance, the Government is expanding the provision of vaccination without charge to all of those in the at-risk groups, including healthcare workers, and to all children aged from 2 to 12 years.
Vaccines will be administered via GPs and pharmacists, as in previous years.
The expanded programme will ensure that those most vulnerable to the effects of influenza will have access to vaccination without charges. By providing vaccination to those most at-risk, and those most likely to require hospitalisation if they contract influenza, it is anticipated that the programme will see a reduction in the number of influenza-related hospital admissions, as well as a reduction in the overall spread of influenza in the community.
I am aware that, following a delay in the delivery of the first batch of vaccines, the first deliveries of influenza vaccines to all sites (GPs, pharmacists, nursing homes etc.) started on 17th September. For the initial deliveries, the quantities of influenza vaccine delivered to sites are the same as previous years. The quantities of vaccine available to order by sites will be increased in line with the amounts received into the country. All shipments, totalling 1.35 million individual doses, are expected to be delivered before the end of October. The HSE is in daily contact with the manufacturer in relation to the delivery of the vaccines. Delivery of the nasal vaccine used to be used for children is not affected.
The HSE is satisfied that he number of doses procured is sufficient to vaccinate all in the at-risk groups. The start date of the vaccination programme will be late September or early October, the same as in previous years. The vaccination programme for children is expected to commence from mid-October.
The vaccination campaign will be accompanied by a comprehensive communications campaign to encourage the greatest possible take-up.