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primary dose From tomorrow all 5 to 11 year olds to be offered Covid-19 vaccine

It also emerged Dr Holohan urged the Government to have “clear communications” to the public over New Year’s Eve festivities and that they should “strictly limit” social contacts to “the most essential”

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Dr Tony Holohan

Dr Tony Holohan

Dr Tony Holohan

All 5- to 11-year-olds will be offered a primary dose of Covid-19 vaccine from tomorrow.

The paediatric vaccination programme for this age group has already been underway for those who have a health condition which puts them at risk of severe illness from Covid-19 or who live with someone who is at higher risk from the virus.

They were offered a vaccine in hospital settings, and since Monday, vaccination was available to this group by appointment in vaccination centres.

The Department of Health said this afternoon that from tomorrow – Saturday- all 5 to 11 year olds will be offered the primary dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said: "Over the Christmas period, we reported the highest daily numbers of confirmed Covid-19 cases. 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.”

Separately, it has emerged that Dr Holohan urged the Government to have “clear communications” to the public over New Year’s Eve festivities that they should “strictly limit” social contacts to “the most essential”.

Writing to Mr Donnely, Dr Holohan strongly urged for the Government to communicate to the public that it should avoid mixing between households.

Despite Government advice remaining to be that up to four households can mix, the CMO put out stark advice over the Christmas period, urging for households to not mix at all.

He also urged Minister Donnelly on December 30 to be clear in his communications that only “the most essential” socialising should take place.

“There is a particular concern that the nature and extent of social contact over the coming days, particularly over the New Year Period, will lead to a further deterioration in the disease profile and inter-generational spread of Covid-19,” he wrote.

“As such, it is of paramount importance that there are clear communications to the public on how to mitigate risk in the coming days, with the core message being that people should strictly limit their social contacts to all but the most essential, including avoiding, to the greatest extent possible, indoor mixing between households.”

Dr Holohan also warned that even though early indications showed that Omicron may be less severe for those who have been boosted, he said that there remains “significant concern” on high case counts on the health service, especially acute hospitals and intensive care, as well as “other essential public services”.

Speaking the morning after the CMO’s letter was sent, Minister Donnelly said that people should “minimise” mixing with other households “to the greatest extent possible” on RTÉ radio.

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Dr Holohan also advised the Minister of changes to isolation periods for confirmed cases who have been boosted and the rollout of free antigen testing to people aged four to 39 who have symptoms.

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