Q&A: Vaccine appointments for 12- to 15-year-olds, how will they work?

Registration for those aged 12-15 for Covid-19 vaccines is to open on Thursday

To register your 12- to 15-year-old for a vaccine you will need to provide their PPS number and Eircode of their address. Photograph: iStock

To register your 12- to 15-year-old for a vaccine you will need to provide their PPS number and Eircode of their address. Photograph: iStock

 

The Health Service Executive has said the Covid-19 vaccine portal will open on Thursday for 12- to 15-year-olds, with vaccinations starting this weekend, so how will it work?

How do I register my child for a vaccine?

At least one parent or legal guardian will need to give consent for their child to receive the vaccine, which can be done online.

The HSE vaccine registration portal has been modified to allow parents to provide consent for their children to receive the shots.

When you register for your child via the portal, you will receive a text message with a link allowing you to approve parental consent.

If you do not provide consent online, or register over the phone, a parent or guardian will need to confirm consent at the vaccination appointment.

Alternatively, a parent can book an appointment for their child in pharmacies participating in the vaccine rollout.

What information do I need to register?

To register your 12- to 15-year-old for a vaccine you will need to provide their PPS number and Eircode of their address, as well as your own mobile phone number and email address.

What type of vaccine will children receive?

Those aged between 12 and 15 will be offered an mRNA vaccine, so either Pfizer, or Moderna, both which require two doses several weeks apart.

What do the experts say about this?

The question of whether to vaccinate children and younger teenagers has been tossed around for several months.

Due to the lower risks of serious illness among children from Covid-19, the question was less straightforward than the vaccination of the elderly, medically vulnerable, healthcare workers, and other adults.

Following lengthy deliberation, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac), recommended those aged 12-15 should be offered mRNA vaccines.

In particular, the expert group strongly recommended children in that cohort with underlying medical conditions, or with at-risk family members, be vaccinated.

The Niac recommendation has been backed by Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer, and other senior health officials.

Current HSE advice states in most cases children who contract the virus have very mild, or no symptoms. Serious illness or death is rare, with just one in every 100,000 children infected with Covid-19 hospitalised, and the risk of ending up in intensive care even lower.

So why vaccinate my child if the risks are so low?

While the risk of a child or young teenager getting ill from Covid-19 is low, it is not zero. If children are not vaccinated they also risk spreading the virus to others, or developing long Covid. And if a child does pick up the virus, they will be required to self-isolate, missing school and other activities.

When and where will the vaccinations take place?

The first vaccine appointments for the age group will take place this weekend, with the intention to complete the second doses between the middle and end of September.

Most children will receive an appointment at a mass vaccination centre near their home, or in a pharmacy.

Evening vaccine clinics will also be run in a limited number of GPs and pharmacies, to facilitate parents accompanying children after work.

What do I need to bring?

Children will need to be accompanied by an adult to the appointment. Any 12 to 15-year-old attending without an adult, even if parental consent has been registered online, will not be vaccinated.

Where a parent or guardian has given consent for the vaccine online, it is possible to ask another adult to bring the child or teenager to the appointment.

Children should ideally bring some form of identification with their date of birth, such as a passport, or birth certificate, failing that a Public Services Card or school ID badge.

If they do not have any identification, the adult accompanying them will be asked to confirm the child’s identity and age.