Vaccine registration for 12-15 year olds to open next week

Aim is for large number of children in age group to get first jab by start of school year

Niac chairwoman Prof Karina Butler: decision to extend the vaccination programme to children aged 12 to 15 had been reached following ‘a lot of thoughtful consideration’. Photograph: Paddy Cummins/Collins

Niac chairwoman Prof Karina Butler: decision to extend the vaccination programme to children aged 12 to 15 had been reached following ‘a lot of thoughtful consideration’. Photograph: Paddy Cummins/Collins

 

Registration for Covid-19 vaccines for 12-15 year olds is due to open next Thursday, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has said.

Confirming the move, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said in a tweet: “I’m encouraging parents and these young people to seek information from reliable sources such as the HSE website.”

The next phase of the inoculation campaign aims to see a large number of 12-15 year olds offered a first vaccine before the start of the next school year.

Health Service Executive (HSE) chief executive Paul Reid said children would be offered the Pfizer vaccine in line with the recommendation of the European Medicines Agency that mRNA vaccines were safe and effective for those aged 12 to 15.

Mr Reid told RTÉ Drivetime that the HSE was carrying out three pieces of work as part of the children’s vaccination programme: communicating guidance to parents, managing issues of consent, and adapting information and technology systems to collect relevant data.

Asked what would happen if one parent consented to a vaccination but another didn’t, Mr Reid said such issues were still being worked through. All the details of the programme were being finalised and would be published on hse.ie on Friday, he said.

No target

Of the minimum age, he said the child would have to have turned 12 before the vaccine could be administered and not merely born in 2009. Mr Reid said he would expected the first doses to be administered the week after next, adding there was no target number of vaccinations the HSE was seeking.

The Government sanctioned the move last week on foot of advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac).

Niac chairwoman Prof Karina Butler then said the decision to extend the vaccination programme to children aged 12 to 15 had been reached following “a lot of thoughtful consideration”.

The decision was in recognition of the need to protect the vulnerable in that age group and those with underlying conditions, said Prof Butler. She acknowledged that the chances of children becoming very ill from the virus were rare, but there were cases where children contracted “long Covid”, in some cases many weeks after they were first infected, and they ended up in intensive care.

Prof Butler said Niac believed that the benefits outweighed the risks so it had been decided to offer the vaccine to that age group.