Up to half of all primary and secondary school students have so far failed to avail of the swine flu vaccine when offered it through their school. As infection rates from the disease continue to stabilise nationally, latest HSE figures reveal a total of 46,000 people – including some 2,500 teachers and other school staff – have received the vaccine since the programme of vaccination began in primary and secondary schools before Christmas.
This represents a take-up rate of around 50%, but also indicates that tens of thousands of other students and their parents have decided not to sign the consent form allowing them to receive the vaccine at school.
A HSE spokeswoman said it has vaccinated over 100,000 people in the five- to 19-year age group through its schools campaign, HSE vaccination clinics and GPs.
This represents a total of just over one in 10 of all people in this age group, who are among those listed as being at particular risk from the disease.
Meanwhile, the figures indicate that around six out of 10 children under five have also not had the vaccine, despite the fact that every parent of an under-five has been written to by the HSE inviting them to be vaccinated.
"The uptake among school children is around 50%, but there would be some overlap with other phases of the vaccination campaign.
"Some children would already have received the vaccine at a HSE clinic or through their GP if they were in the 'at risk' group," the HSE spokeswoman said.