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jab done Teens aged 16 to 17 to be offered jab next month under parental consent


HSE chief Paul Reid. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

HSE chief Paul Reid. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

HSE chief Paul Reid. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Teenagers aged 16 to 17 are expected to be offered a Covid-19 vaccine next month as long as their parents consent.

Currently anyone over 18 can register for a vaccine and the HSE said its portal has recorded huge interest from the youngest groups, unlike some other countries where enthusiasm for the jab wanes among those in their late teens and twenties.

In the UK demand for the jab among young adults has plummeted by 80pc as the roll-out slumps to its slowest pace yet.

Just 18,100 under-25s a day have come forward to get their first dose in the past week. This is a dramatic fall since the vaccine programme was first opened to all adults a month ago.

The next group to be offered a vaccine in this country will be secondary school pupils, college students and others in the 16 to 17 age group, thousands of whom will return to a classroom or third level campus in the autumn.

Parental consent will be needed for these to receive the vaccine but the hope is there will be a significant take-up if supplies allow for it to be offered to them in August.

No decision has been made on vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds and the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) is expected to take time before making recommendations.

However, it is expected young people with underlying medical conditions as well as those in households where a member is at risk will be included in the programme before the end of the summer.

It comes as new figures show 66pc of people are fully vaccinated and 77pc have received at least one dose.

HSE chief Paul Reid said yesterday the vaccination roll-out is “flying” and 300,000 doses will be administered this week, with the same next week.

New figures show 92pc of the 60 to 69 age group, who were left waiting for a second dose, are now fully vaccinated, with 95pc receiving a first dose.

Among 50 to 59-year-olds 90pc are fully vaccinated, as are 87pc of people in their 40s.

Already 30pc of people in their thirties are fully protected and 76pc have had a first dose. There are 31pc in their twenties fully vaccinated.

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The HSE briefing yesterday heard suggestions that around 90pc of the population, including children, may need to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity.

Herd immunity is when the virus stops naturally spreading in a population because enough people are protected against the disease.

Scientists disagree on what the exact herd immunity threshold is.

HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said yesterday that last year there was a much “cruder estimate “ based on the less infectious form of Covid-19 circulating. Herd immunity then was thought to be possible with 60-70pc of the population covered.

“But because we’re dealing with a much more transmissible variant, to reach that concept of herd immunity the estimate has gone up certainly to 85-90pc,” he said.

He said that by extension that would include extending vaccines to children also.

The bar for deciding on whether to extend vaccines to all children is high and there are ethical considerations around inoculating them against a virus which does not present a serious health threat to them.

Meanwhile, some scientists in the UK have backed proposals for Covid boosters to be issued in the autumn after blood tests on hundreds of people revealed protective antibodies can wane substantially within weeks of a second vaccine.

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