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Government agrees to extend Covid vaccines to 12 to 15-year-olds

Anyone under the age of 16 will have to be accompanied by an adult to get their vaccine.

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Vaccinatior Karen Anne Coughlan prepares a vaccine at the mass vaccination centre in the Helix, DCU, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Vaccinatior Karen Anne Coughlan prepares a vaccine at the mass vaccination centre in the Helix, DCU, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Vaccinatior Karen Anne Coughlan prepares a vaccine at the mass vaccination centre in the Helix, DCU, Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Government has decided to extended Covid vaccines to children aged between 12 and 15 years of age.

The Cabinet on Tuesday accepted advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) that recommends the extension of the vaccination programme to children in that age cohort.

It will be reviewed from a planning, operational and clinical perspective in the coming days, the Government said.

It is understood that teenagers in the age group could start receiving the mRNA vaccine from next week to ensure a high number is vaccinated before schools return.

Teenagers aged 16 and 17 could register for a Covid-19 vaccine appointment from today.

Changes will be made to the online portal system to allow for parental consent.

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Anyone under the age of 16 will have to be accompanied by an adult to get their vaccine.

The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said the decision to offer vaccines to those aged 12 to 15 was based on advice received by the chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan from NIAC.

We are continuing to see an increase in cases of Covid-19 among our young people and vaccination, along with continued adherence to the public health advice, remains the best protection we can offer Stephen Donnelly

Mr Donnelly said: “I am delighted to be in a position to confirm that our young people will be offered an opportunity to protect themselves from Covid-19.

“Yesterday, I announced that the vaccine registration portal was opening to all those aged 16 and 17 years old and today’s announcement is an important step in offering that same protection to our younger population.

“We are continuing to see an increase in cases of Covid-19 among our young people and vaccination, along with continued adherence to the public health advice, remains the best protection we can offer.

“Support for parents and young people will be made available to help them make the best decision for them.”

“The outstanding progress of our Covid-19 vaccination programme is making continues.

“To date, we have administered 5.55 million doses.

“This has resulted in a marked reduction in levels of severe disease and hospitalisation and enabled us to continue with the safe re-opening of Irish society.”

More than 5.5 million doses have been administered across the country, with over 69% of people fully vaccinated and over 83% partially vaccinated.

The Government warned, however, that the incidence of the Delta variant in Ireland poses a significant risk, particularly to those who are not yet fully vaccinated.

Mr Donnelly also said that the Department of Health and the Department of Foreign Affairs will donate Covid-19 vaccines which are not needed in Ireland.

Earlier, Taoiseach Micheal Martin said it represents a “significant opening up” of the vaccination programme to young people.

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin speaks to the media as he arrives for a cabinet meeting at the Government Buildings in Dublin (Damien Eagers/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin speaks to the media as he arrives for a cabinet meeting at the Government Buildings in Dublin (Damien Eagers/PA)

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin speaks to the media as he arrives for a cabinet meeting at the Government Buildings in Dublin (Damien Eagers/PA)

He said it has been an effective programme to date, but wants to encourage high participation rates among the remaining age cohorts.

“To that extent the HSE will be adding walk-in vaccination centres over the Bank Holiday weekend to facilitate further vaccination among the 16, 17 and 18-year-olds onwards,” he added.

Cabinet also agreed to allow 100 people to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions from August 5.

Christening and baptism ceremonies will also be allowed to go ahead, although no post-receptions are to take place.

Meanwhile, Minister for Education Norma Foley brought a memo to Cabinet which she said confirms that plans are in place for the full reopening of schools.

The evidence available from the operation of schools during Covid-19 to date shows that schools are low risk environments due to the infection prevention and control measures in placeNorma Foley

“We are in constant communication with public health specialists ahead of the new school year and we can confirm that we are preparing for a full return of schools in late August and early September,” Ms Foley said.

“Public Health has stated that the new variants of the disease do not change the infection prevention and control measures required in schools.

“The evidence available from the operation of schools during Covid-19 to date shows that schools are low-risk environments due to the infection prevention and control measures in place.

“The provision of CO2 monitors for every school will be an important tool in keeping our schools safe and in addition to the mitigation measures already in place, our staff and students can be confident of returning to safe environments in our schools.”


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