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Warning Majority of primary school parents ignore offer to vaccinate child against Covid-19

Figures reveal just 93,000 of 480,000 five to 11-year-olds are fully vaccinated even though it has been offered to them since January

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Dr Colm Henry (Brian Lawless/PA)

Dr Colm Henry (Brian Lawless/PA)

Dr Colm Henry (Brian Lawless/PA)

The majority of parents of primary school children have so far ignored the offer to vaccinate their child against Covid-19 amid concern at another rise in cases ahead of St ­Patrick's Day.

Figures reveal just 93,000 of 480,000 five to 11-year-olds are fully vaccinated even though it has been offered to them since early January

Overall, 120,000 are partially vaccinated with the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, the HSE revealed yesterday.

So far 8,500 of the 280,000 children aged 12 to 15 have received a booster shot.

It comes as the country is braced for a rise in Covid-19 cases during St Patrick's Festival celebrations following an upward trend in infections, with more than 25,000 people testing positive over Saturday, Sunday and yesterday.

Over 2,000 cases, which were not counted due to late notifications, will be added to today's figure.

Meanwhile, the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital has risen to 1,042 for the first time since mid-January with 42 patients in intensive care which is relatively stable.

HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said yesterday the rise in hospital cases is disrupting the functioning of hospitals because of the infection control measures that must be enforced, including the closure of beds.

He said the concern is primarily around the impact on hospitals and in relation to unvaccinated people who are not protected against the virus.

"We are not so concerned about the impact on the unvaccinated."

Around half or more patients, depending on the hospital, who have Covid-19, were admitted with another illness rather than complications of the virus.

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Several hospitals have patients in intensive care who have Covid-19 but they are there due to another serious illness and not the virus.

Eoghan de Barra, infectious disease consultant in Beaumont Hospital, said yesterday that the firewall of vaccination is holding up in protecting people with the virus from serious illness.

He said he is only very rarely seeing pneumonitis - inflammation of lung tissue - or pneumonia in Covid-19-positive patients as he did earlier in the pandemic.

The patients admitted due to complications of the virus may be unvaccinated or have very low underlying immunity due to conditions such as blood cancer.

Doctors also now have access to treatments to administer to at-risk patients to reduce the chances of deterioration.

He said he is not in favour of a return to mandatory wearing of face masks but he urged people to wear them in settings where they might put the vulnerable at risk.

"It is a visible sign of concern for others and a mark of compassion," he said.

There was no rush to call for a return to mask mandates among frontline doctors and the mood was not one of panic but an appeal to healthy people to wear a mask where there is risk to the vulnerable.

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