All children aged 5-11 to be offered a Covid-19 vaccine from tomorrow

By Ciara Phelan

All children aged 5-11 years will be offered a Covid-19 vaccine from Saturday, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has confirmed.

Currently children in the 5-11 age cohort that have a health condition or lives with someone who is at higher risk of contracting Covid is being offered a vaccine.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan said: “While we know that most children in the 5-11 age group will experience a very mild form of this disease, for a small few, they may become severely ill.

“Vaccines are doing an excellent job of preventing severe illness and disease in those who are fully vaccinated.

“This is good news. Getting your child vaccinated is a decision between you and your child.

“I encourage all parents and guardians to engage with the trusted health advice available on the HSE website, and with your own family clinician if you have any concerns about bringing your child for this vaccine.”

Minister Donnelly said “it is important to discuss the Covid-19 vaccine with your child.”

He said: “As a parent of children in this age group myself, I know that children have many questions about COVID-19 and about this vaccine, and it is important to ensure they can access the information material the HSE have made available.

“As we wait for more evidence to emerge on the severity of infection with the Omicron variant, it is important that we continue to encourage all of those eligible for vaccination to come forward.”

Chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Council (NIAC), Professor Karina Butler said NIAC considered the potential risks and benefits of vaccination, including the direct and indirect effects on health and wellbeing in this age group.

He said: “The potential benefits of vaccination are most obvious for children with underlying conditions, and, as such, the NIAC have recommended that this group be prioritised for vaccination.

“As a paediatric doctor, I know that many parents and guardians will have genuine concerns and questions about Covid-19 vaccination for their children.

“However, when the available evidence relating to the risk Covid-19 can pose to some children, as well as the significant negative impact on the lives of all of them, particularly the educational and social lives of our children, are considered, the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks.

“I urge all parents and guardians to encourage their children to receive their Covid-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to them.”

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