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vaccine programme

Vaccinations for vulnerable children to start next week, Taoiseach says

Micheál Martin said that vulnerable children will begin to receive vaccines from 20 December.

THE TAOISEACH HAS said the vaccination of children under 12 will begin on 20 December starting with vulnerable cohorts.

Speaking on this evening’s Six One News, Micheál Martin said that vulnerable cohorts will begin receiving vaccines from next Monday.

He said that the major cohort vaccinations in children will begin from 10 January onwards.

It comes after the HSE said today that registration for the Covid-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11 will “open shortly”.

The health service also published new guidance for parents and guardians this afternoon regarding the vaccine for children.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has “strongly recommended” vaccines for children aged 5-11 who have a health condition that puts them at high risk of severe illness if they contract Covid, or if they live with a younger child or adult who has complex medical needs, or is immunocompromised.

Children will receive a smaller dose of the Pfizer vaccine. NIAC has advised that they receive the vaccine in two doses, three weeks apart. 

In a statement, Director of the National Immunisation Office (NIO) Dr Lucy Jessop said: “Covid-19 vaccines will soon be offered to children aged 5 to 11 years and we want parents to have time to read and discuss all the information we have about the vaccine.”

“We know that parents have questions and concerns, and we also know that they want to get information from a trusted source like the HSE, their GP or other healthcare professionals,” she said.

For all other children in this age group, severe illness from Covid-19 is rare, but it can happen. The recommendation is that the benefits of vaccination are greater than the risks from the vaccine. The benefits include avoiding getting Covid-19, and extra protection from the rare risks of serious illness from Covid-19.

The Government last week accepted NIAC’S advice that children aged 5-11 be offered the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. 

The Pfizer vaccine was first approved by the European Medicines Agency for use in children in this age cohort in late November.

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