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HSE to set up child-friendly vaccination clinics to incentivise take-up and avoid mix-ups

"This would minimise distress to young children and reduce likelihood of vaccine error by avoiding the adult and paediatric vaccines at the same venue."
A boy gets the jab.

A boy gets the jab.

Eilish O'Regan, Katherine Donnelly and Hugh O'Connell

THE HSE has been told to set up separate "child-friendly" Covid-19 vaccination clinics for five to 11-year-olds to avoid them getting upset or risk their jabs being mixed up with adult booster shots.

It comes as a major public information push to encourage parents to have their primary school child vaccinated is set to get underway.

However, the roll-out - some of which will begin later this month - is set to create another logistical headache for the HSE already beset by reports of "no-shows" and appointment mix-ups among adults offered boosters.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) has told the HSE it should establish "separate child-friendly vaccination clinics" for five to 11-year-olds.

"This would minimise distress to young children and reduce likelihood of vaccine error by avoiding the adult and paediatric vaccines at the same venue."

This could mean the HSE having to designate certain vaccination centres for children-only on certain days or hours, leaving them out of bounds to booster shots.

The first deliveries of the child vaccines, which are of lower strength than adult versions, are due here next week.

A spokeswoman for the HSE said last night: "An important part of this next stage will be to provide trusted and accurate information to help parents and guardians make the best decision."

A number of walk-in vaccination centres opened for booster shots for people in their 50s today while high numbers of the 60-69 age group have yet to get their third shot.

Around 480,000 children will be offered a vaccine in the coming months, with the main administration picking up pace in January.

However, Niac said some children need to be prioritised for a vaccine, including those with an underlying condition, children living with a younger child with complex medical needs or living with an immunocompromised adult.

The wider group needs to be given their vaccine - which includes two doses three weeks apart - at the same time as boosters are given to the under-40s.

Niac said the vaccine should be offered because of the favourable "benefit risk profile" of the jab to protect them from severe disease.

Prof Karina Butler, chair of Niac, said last night that the impact of Covid-19 in children is overwhelmingly mild but "some children will get sick and end up in hospital".

"It is very rare but severe infection can occur," she said.

Children can suffer symptoms that leave them unwell and disrupt education, she added. There is also a rare risk of long Covid.

Figures released yesterday showed another rise in infections in primary school children last week to 7,359, accounting for 21pc of all Covid-19 cases.

There were 30 school outbreaks.

The incidence in five to 12-year-olds is almost twice that of the rest of the population.

Meanwhile, the HSE said it is working to reduce the numbers of no-shows at adult booster vaccination centres.

A spokeswoman said if people are already boosted and are offered another appointment they can indicate a cancellation on their text message or complete an online form on

There may be a gap in information which, from time to time, leads to one person getting multiple appointments.

It comes as 543 Covid-19 patients were being treated in hospital yesterday, an increase of 38.

The number of patients in intensive case rose by one to 118. Another 4,152 cases of Covid-19 were also reported.

The Covid Oversight Group of senior civil servants and public health officials met yesterday and were told while the situation is holding steady, the level of hospitalisations and intensive care admissions are stuck at a high level.

Nphet will meet next Thursday when more will be known of the potential impact of the new variant Omicron.

The most-recent Nphet modelling shows that the variant could cause between 6,000 and 15,000 cases a day from next month.

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