Scientific Papers

Increasing Influenza vaccination uptake among children aged 2-17 years old in Ireland: A new initiative deployed mid-season

Presenter background: Dr. James Gilroy is a medical doctor by profession and currently working in public health, he started doing Mechanical engineering at the University of College London before doing a Medical degree at the Queen’s University Belfast. Dr. Gilroy has worked in hospital settings in Anaesthetics and ICU departments for a couple of years before moving to complete his Masters in Public Health at the University College Dublin in 2022. He describes his passion for science stems from working on single-patients level as a clinician. His previous experience with engineering allows him to apply systems-based thinking in healthcare issues. Outside of his work he enjoys spending time with his three children. As an early career scientist attending the ninth ESWI 2023 conference he is looking forward to gaining more knowledge in different fields and building networks. 

Live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) is recommended for children older than six months and adults. The annual influenza vaccination programme for children in Ireland commenced during the COVID-19 pandemic 2020-2021 which caused a hesitancy and decrease of vaccine uptake. This raised concerns at the National immunisation office and the healthcare sectors. James aimed to apply the network of vaccination centres to raise awareness in clinical walk-in settings and start a media campaign to encourage parents to vaccinate their children against influenza. The vaccination of children in January 2023 increased especially around the flu seasons, and clinics walk-ins across 11 counties in Ireland showed an increase in the influenza vaccine uptake. The media campaign showed to be very impactful in clinics and pharmacies to encourage vaccination of children. Future work includes promoting programs during influenza seasons that may increase vaccinations rates and the implementation of school-based immunisation programmes. 

Dr Gilroy’s project on the application of media to inform parents to improve influenza vaccine uptake in children demonstrates how science can be communicated to inform the public about preventing diseases. He describes that this work was laborious, but the rewards made it worth it. He is hopeful the next ESWI meeting will have more data on the increased vaccination programs in children and more implementations programmes.

James Gilroy (1), Aparna Keegan (2)
1: Area C Public Health Depratment, Health Service Executive, Ireland
2: National Immunisation Office, Health Service Executive, Ireland
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More info:

Best practices in vaccination programmes for risk groups and healthcare workers
SPI03 session from #ESWI2023