Covid-19 vaccine registration for 16- and 17-year-olds to begin tomorrow

Norma Foley to bring school reopening plan to Cabinet on Tuesday

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD at Dublin Castle. Photograph Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD at Dublin Castle. Photograph Nick Bradshaw for The Irish Times

 

Covid-19 vaccine registration will begin on Tuesday for people aged 16 and 17, the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has announced.

“It’s important that we continue to get as many of our population vaccinated as soon as vaccines are available and following the safety advice of our experts,” Mr Donnelly tweeted.

There were 1,345 new cases of Covid-19 reported by the Department of Health on Monday while the number of patients in ICU is up three to 25.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ronan Glynn, said: “87 per cent of cases today are in those aged less than 45 years. If you are awaiting your vaccine or are awaiting your second dose, continue to protect yourself by following public health advice.

“Vaccines against Covid-19 are safe and effective. Please get vaccinated as soon as you have the opportunity to do so,” he said.

It comes as back to school plans are set to come before the cabinet on Tuesday, with the Minister for Education Norma Foley saying schools will reopen fully from late August and early September.

The reopening plan includes details on the outcome of antigen testing pilots and a scheme to purchase CO2 monitors.

CO2 monitors can measure the level of carbon dioxide in a room, which can indicate when windows and doors need to be opened to allow for better ventilation.

The new plan will allow schools to “draw down” CO2 monitors, and the Minister said she was confident there would be enough monitors for all schools by the start of the new school year.

Capacity limits on school transport services will also remain in place, and an enhanced public awareness campaign has also been designed.

Ms Foley said there was ongoing engagement between her department and public health officials on the matter, but all schools were set to reopen.

Strong mitigation measures would be in place in schools to ensure that they would continue to be controlled environments, she told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show on Monday.

The safe operation of the Leaving Certificate exams and enhanced summer camps indicated that the safe operation of education could be maintained, the Minister said.

In relation to Covid-19 vaccines for children, Ms Foley said the “expertise” lay with the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) from which her department would take guidance.

“I have received confirmation that the 16 to 18-year-old cohort should be in a position for online registration in the coming days, and I have been advised that the 15-year-olds cohort are still being considered by Niac and there has been no definitive timeline given,” she added.

Government sources were adamant on Sunday that second-level education would resume in the autumn, despite concerns among public-health officials that the wave could grow following the reopening of indoor dining today, before peaking in September.

“Schools will reopen,” a senior Coalition source said.

Return to work

Meanwhile, two teaching unions have said that their members will return to schools in August and September if that is in accordance with public health advice.

Diarmuid de Paor, deputy general secretary of the ASTI told RTÉ News at One that while there were worrying trends in relation to new variants, if Nphet advised that it was safe to do so, then his members “will be going back to school.”

The ASTI will continue to monitor the situation carefully, he added. “We will follow the advice.”

Mr de Paor said the issue of vaccinating children was of concern to teachers, but that they could not take the advice of “just one doctor”.

He added that the roll out of the vaccination programme to 16 to 18 year olds represented a “significant cohort of our students.”

However, he expressed concern about pregnant teachers who might not have been vaccinated for medical reasons and said allowances would have to be made for them.

Martin Marjoram, president of the TUI, said their union would also follow public health advice.

He said the TUI welcomed the Minister’s announcement about the provision of CO2 monitors for all schools, which would make them safer.