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not on the cards Health minister confirms children will not need Covid-19 vaccine to attend school

The minister said any suggestion that pupils would need to be vaccinated in order to attend school was 'absolutely not on the cards and won't be on the cards'


Health Minister Stephen Donnelly

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly

Children will not have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to attend school, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has confirmed.

The minister said any suggestion that pupils would need to be vaccinated in order to attend school was "absolutely not on the cards and won't be on the cards.”

Speaking to RTÉ Radio One's Morning Ireland, Mr Donnelly confirmed that 12 to 15-year-olds with underlying health conditions will be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccines, as the rollout programme begins to focus on children.

"There was a particular emphasis in the Niac advice on vaccinating children who have underlying conditions and vaccinating children who live with, or are in social or family circles with adults who have underlying conditions.

"I think it's likely there will be a role for GPs, particularly where parents have a child with an underlying condition, they have a relationship with a GP, they'd like to talk to their GP, parents will have some very reasonable questions they want to discuss, and they might want the GP to administer the vaccine as well,” he said.

The minister said children will need permission from their parents and will also have to be accompanied to vaccine centres by a parent.

There are 269,000 children in the 12-15 year age group and they will be given the option to be vaccinated in vaccine centres.

"Ultimately, the consent and the permission comes from the parents, they will always do what's right for their child and a lot of parents now, I think, are really welcoming of this news and they're looking forward to getting their children vaccinated,” he said.

Mr Donnelly acknowledged that while children are at less risk of falling seriously ill due to their age, they are not fully protected.

“One of the other issues being pointed out is long Covid,” he continued.

“There are higher rates where children and indeed adults have less severity but the symptoms can last a lot longer.

“Not only does this protect the children themselves but it also protects their families and those around them,” he said.

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He said some parents will have very reasonable questions and the government will ensure expert information is available to answer those questions.

The minister said there had been a "very strong" uptake yesterday when the vaccine portal opened to the 16 to 17 year-old age group.

He confirmed there was "well in excess" of 10,000 registrations "within the first 90 minutes to two hours".

He said a decision has not yet been made on vaccinating children aged under 12 but that this is something that would be unlikely to happen in this calendar year.

The minister added that Niac has identified four cohorts to begin booster shots to run alongside the winter flu vaccine, which is usually administered in early autumn.

It is understood boosters will be offered first to people at high risk of illness or exposure to Covid-19, particularly those who were vaccinated early in the rollout.

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