Ireland's HSE developing plans to vaccinate children against Covid-19

Ireland's HSE developing plans to vaccinate children against Covid-19

IRELAND's Health Service Executive (HSE) is planning for the possibility of vaccinating the nation's children, according to HSE lead on vaccines Damien McCallion.

This week, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) officially approved the Pfizer vaccine for teenagers aged 12-15, having previously approved it for those aged 16 and 17.

Approval for the Moderna vaccine for teenagers aged 12-15 is expected follow shortly, and as such Ireland's HSE has begun making plans for a potential rollout for younger people.

Despite this, the EMA is not making any recommendation around vaccinating teenagers and children, it's simply approving the vaccines for use.

So far in Ireland, only teenagers aged 16 to 17 who are in the priority groups at very high risk or high risk from Covid-19 have received a vaccine, but there are currently no plans to vaccinate healthy youngsters.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee is however reviewing the evidence around whether this is necessary in Ireland.

Young people are statistically the least likely to die or to be hospitalised by Covid-19, and many feel as though vaccinating children is unnecessary.

On the other hand, case numbers are currently on the rise among young people in Ireland, with over half of the country's Delta variant cases - the most dominant strain in Ireland at the moment - identified in those aged 19-34.

Professor in Immunology at Trinity College Dublin Derek Doherty says this is primarily because the 19-34 age group has not yet been vaccinated and that younger people are "possibly more inclined to socialise and get into close contact with each other.

"The big risk is that they are becoming infected, which slows down the whole pace of the race against the virus with the vaccine," Prof Doherty said.

He added that younger people should be vaccinated as a priority in order to curb the spread of the virus.

"We are no longer talking about hospitalisations and serious disease, we are talking about the number of people who are being infected and if we want to end the pandemic I feel we should immunise the children and the teenagers."