Professor Karina Butler, chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC), has said that a new nasal flu vaccine will be available to vaccinate children ahead of the return to school.
It was really important to keep the childhood vaccination programme going, she told Newstalk Breakfast.
The main reason was to protect children particularly as the school vaccination programme had been interrupted over the last six months, explained Prof Butler.
Major efforts had been put in place over the summer to catch up on the vaccination programme, she said.
If anyone was concerned that their child had fallen behind with their vaccines then they should contact their local immunisation office.
“The new vaccine that's coming into the programme this autumn is the nasal flu vaccine, which is going to be offered to all children up to 12 years of age. Every year we see an upsurge in the number of flu cases.
“We talk about having bad seasons and worse seasons - sometimes we get a lot of cases that usually begin somewhere towards later autumn to winter.
"Up to now, the flu vaccine by injection has been available for those that are considered at higher risk, and now there is a nasal flu vaccine.
“It is a live, attenuated - that's a weakened form of the virus - given into the nose by drops for children.
"That might help reduce that burden, first of all it will reduce the incidence of flu for children, which is great.”
Reducing fevers and the incidence of flu like symptoms will reduce any confusion with Covid-19 symptoms.
Prof Butler said that most children who get the flu have relatively mild symptoms, but every winter there are children who become “significantly ill” with the flu, or secondary bacterial infection.
“The flu is not harmless, it has potential to cause serious infection. Flu spreads very significantly, from person to person and definitely from children to others in the family and to those who may be at risk.”