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21st Jul 2021

Doctor advises crèches should stay open amidst surge in under sixes testing positive for Covid

Kat O'Connor

“We absolutely need them to allow people to work.”

The increase in COVID-19 cases across the island of Ireland has been intense. Watching the daily case numbers reach over 1000 has definitely reminded us of the darker days of the pandemic, but experts have stressed that the majority of people being infected with the Delta strain are unvaccinated so the vaccines are doing their job. They are protecting those of us who have received the jab.

However, there is a huge group of our population who have yet to be vaccinated and we’re unsure if they will be this year. Outbreaks of COVID-19 in children are on the rise due to the fact that they’re not vaccinated.

Luckily, it is believed children do not suffer severe symptoms if they catch the virus.

Most children will suffer from a mild cough or a sore throat. They may also experience a high temperature or runny nose.

GPs are now calling for infants and children under 6 to be tested. Dr Illona Duffy, a GP in Monaghan, told Claire Byrne that one-third of her patients testing positive is under 6.

She explained that it is vital to bring your child for a test even if you think they just have a cold or hayfever.

Despite the surge in cases, the doctor stressed that the last thing anyone wants to do is to close creches. “That is to be expected and this is in no way to suggest that we’re going to be talking about closing creches because we absolutely need them to allow people to work.”

She added that there isn’t a major concern about the severity of COVID-19 in young children, but there is a fear of them spreading it to others like staff in creches and their families at home.

“If a child develops a Covid infection in a creche or through whatever means of meeting the infection, if they bring it home and their parents aren’t vaccinated or their siblings aren’t vaccinated, we’re seeing that spread through the household.”

There have been calls to vaccinate children in Ireland before the school term, but many believe it is wrong to use vaccines on children in rich countries when adults in poor countries are still waiting to be vaccinated.

Only 13% of the world’s population is fully vaccinated so vaccinating adults and those who are vulnerable is the main priority.

NIAC has yet to confirm if children can avail of the vaccine, but Professor Cliona O’Farrelly stressed that the vaccine does work, just like the ones before it.

“There are literally billions of people alive today because of vaccination, measles, mumps, rubella. We’ve got rid of smallpox. There’s no reason to believe that this one would be any different.”

Click here to read more about vaccinating your children against COVID-19.