Children ‘should be offered Covid-19 vaccinations’

Information campaign on advantages of vaccinating under-16s is needed, says UCC professor

Children ‘should be vaccinated to stop the spread of Covid-19’

Children ‘should be vaccinated to stop the spread of Covid-19’

 

Children should be vaccinated to stop the spread of Covid-19, a leading immunovirology professor from UCC has said.

Prof Liam Fanning has called for a public health information campaign to offer parents and guardians “clear and concise” details on the advantages of vaccination for children.

His comments come after concerns were raised about a possible delay to school reopening in September due to the more-transmissible Delta variant, combined with indoor dining reopening today.

However, Government sources who spoke to the Irish Times yesterday were adamant that second-level education would resume in the autumn.

A further 1,126 Covid-19 cases were reported yesterday; 141 people were in hospital with the virus, including 22 in intensive care.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Prof Fanning said there are almost two million people under the age of 16 living in Ireland and they are “potential vectors”.

He believed there was a need “to move as rapidly as possible” to have them vaccinated.

Vaccinating the younger age groups would also offer them protection against the rare complication of long Covid, he said.

Prof Fanning added that public health officials should offer “population-wide” figures on the level of vaccination, not just on the number of adults who have been vaccinated.

Hospital Report

Confirmed cases in hospital Confirmed cases in ICU
297 65

This means those aged 16 and above who are vaccinated would be included in the figures. This would provide the public with a sense of “how the nation is protected”, he said.

Earlier on the same programme, Minister for Education Norma Foley denied that “school communities” were lobbying for children to be vaccinated before a return to school.

The Minister said schools would continue with mitigation measures such as hand sanitisers, the wiping down of surfaces, and wearing of masks by second-level students.

The added measure of C02 monitors will be made available to schools for this coming academic year, as good ventilation is key in preventing the spread of Covid-19, the Minister said.

Any remedial measures necessary would be made during the summer holidays, Ms Foley added.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) is in charge of advising the Government in relation to vaccinating children, and its decision on vaccinating 12- to 15-year-old children is awaited.

Currently, children aged 16 and over can avail of a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine in Ireland if they have an underlying health condition.

The HSE portal allowing all 16 to 17-year-olds to sign up for a vaccination is likely to open within days.

The European Medicines Agency has already approved the use of Moderna and Pfizer’s Covid vaccines for children aged 12 and above, but not all EU countries have started vaccinating children yet.

Meanwhile, indoor dining reopens today for those who are fully vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid-19.

The Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, said the success of the vaccination programme had put the country “in a very different space”. He added that it was the Government’s objective to keep all services open.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland, the Minister paid tribute to the “tremendous engagement” by the hospitality sector with the Government in discussions on the guidelines.

The Minister was also asked whether Covid-19 vaccination certificates issued to people in Northern Ireland would be valid in the Republic.

Mr McConalogue said he understood Northern Irish vaccine passes would be compatible with the app being used by pubs and restaurants in the Republic.

Concerns had been raised that those who were vaccinated outside the State may not be able to dine indoors in the Republic, despite being fully vaccinated, as they were not vaccinated by the HSE.