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THE MINISTER OF Health said children at high risk of severe Covid-19 disease will be a priority in the next stage of vaccine deployment.

Stephen Donnelly also said children will not need to receive a Covid vaccine to return to school.

He told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that such a move is “not in the cards and will not be.”

He was speaking after the announcement of the availability of Covid vaccines for children aged 12 to 15. It follows a new opinion from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NIAC).

Although no date for the start of these vaccinations has been given, the minister said he should involve a combination of vaccination centers and general practitioners, and consist of the two mRNA vaccines developed by Moderna (Spikevax ) and Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty).

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced in May that the Pfizer vaccine was safe and effective for use in people 12 years of age and older, and that the benefits outweigh the risks.

A similar recommendation was made for Moderna’s vaccine last Friday.

An information campaign should be launched to ensure that parents are fully informed about the safety and effectiveness of Covid vaccines in children.

The Minister of Health also confirmed that adult boosters will be available alongside the winter flu vaccination program, which will begin in September, for residents of long-term care facilities, frontline health workers, health workers, health workers, health workers and patients. people aged 80 and over and people with compromised immune systems. .

Minister of Health Stephen Donnelly

Source: Leah Farrell /

“The biggest priority for me has been the 12 to 15 year olds with underlying conditions,” Donnelly said.

We’re obviously planning now and looking at advice from NIAC, but I think it’s likely there will be a role for GPs, especially when parents have a child with conditions under. -jacent, they have a relationship with a GP, they would like to talk to their GP.

“Parents will have reasonable questions they want to discuss. “

Donnelly added that 12 to 15-year-olds would be accompanied by an adult when they received their vaccine.

The minister also defended the government’s decision to offer vaccines to this age group, despite their relatively low risk of serious illness, citing both the benefit of protecting adolescents from the impact of Long Covid as well as the benefits to the community at large.

In addition to those with underlying conditions, children who live with or come in contact with people with underlying conditions are likely to be given priority.

Less than 12 years

Donnelly said he did not expect a decision to be made on rolling out Covid vaccines for children under 12 this year. Such a decision would first have to be approved by the European Medicines Agency.

In the United States, authorities expect approval to be granted “within months” for administering vaccines to children under 12 years of age.

Donnelly added that he was examining how Ireland can play a “very important role” internationally in delivering vaccines to low-income countries through programs such as Covax and Gavi.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged rich countries to delay immunizing children and instead give surplus vaccines for distribution to developing countries.

“I think it’s totally ethical and fair to protect our own children and our own community, but it’s not enough,” Donnelly said.

WHO has previously indicated that the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine can be used in people aged 12 and older, showing high efficacy and safety, and that countries should consider vaccinating young people – especially those at high risk. severe illness – if a large proportion of other age groups are already vaccinated.

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Covid vaccines are now available to anyone aged 16 and over in Ireland, with the HSE portal opening for people aged 16 and 17 yesterday. “Well over” 10,000 people signed up within the first two hours, Donnelly said.

As of July 27, 70.73% of the Irish adult population were now fully vaccinated, of which 9.68% were partially vaccinated.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid said more than 50,000 doses were administered yesterday.

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