Ireland ready to offer Covid vaccines to primary school children as soon as possible
It is unlikely children in the five to 11 age group will get their Covid-19 vaccines before Christmas, Micheál Martin has confirmed.
However, the Taoiseach confirms, the state stands ready to kick off a vaccination program for primary school-age children as soon as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approve it.
Mr Martin was speaking at Terence McSwiney College in Cork city at the launch of College Awareness week yesterday and was asked for his response to the news that Canada has authorised the use of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11.
Pfizer and BioNTech have submitted data to the EMA stating they support the use of their mRNA vaccine for young children, and according to reports, the vaccine was found to induce a strong immune response in five- to 11-year-olds in a clinical trial of 2,268 participants, the companies said in September.
The EMA has been evaluating the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on children aged between five and 11 for just over a month now, and the Taoiseach says he expects recommendations to be issued soon – possibly within the next two weeks.
"The rollout to children will happen in due course"
“My view there is that we will then have to go to Niac here but I would support the rollout to children in due course once it’s authorised by the relevant authorities who have the clinical expertise to make that recommendation,” Martin said.
“But we have to get the recommendation from the EMA, similar to the FDA, and that I believe is due within the next week or two, but then there will be a different calibration here because the dosage for children will be much lower than the dosage for adults.
“But it’s something on the horizon and on the agenda – all in the context of the advice we will receive.”
However, the Taoiseach also clarified it is unlikely children under 12 here will get vaccines before Christmas, due to the nature of the logistical and organisational issue involved around manufacturing, distributing and administering smaller doses for children.
“It’s on the horizon and on the agenda and I know the Chief Medical Officer and others are very conscious of what’s going on at the European level and what’s going on in the United States in terms of FDA approval, and the research that is coming on stream in respect of the vaccine and children and its efficacy, so it’s a further step on the road to dealing with this pandemic and we will certainly be ready when those recommendations come,” he said.