Parents urged to vaccinate kids as just 27% of 5-11s are registered 9 months ago

Parents urged to vaccinate kids as just 27% of 5-11s are registered

The HSE had expected this part of the roll-out to go more slowly than with older people.

It has been a few week since the Covid-19 vaccination program in Ireland was extended to the five-11-year-old cohort of children.

However, as of last Thursday, just 27 percent of Irish children in this age group were registered to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, and the HSE is now urging parents to consider booking the vaccination on its online portal.

Dr Lucy Jessop, director at the HSE National Immunisation Office said there is some confusion about the wait required after Covid-19 infection, with the first jab requiring only a four week wait.

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The better-known three-month wait after infection is only for people receiving a third booster dose of the vaccine.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Jessop explains:

“I suppose parents might be a little bit more wary around the vaccine with this younger age-group, we just want to support them in that decision they are making in terms of providing them with as much information as possible."

Jessop also said even though restrictions are being lifted, the risks of Covid-19 remain for some children.

She explains that while Covid can be mild in this age-group,there are still children who will end up in hospital, and who will get some of the rare complications of Covid-19 disease.

“There is MISC-C, that can be quite serious. And actually, myocarditis and pericarditis are more common after Covid-infections than they are after the vaccines,” she explains.

These two heart conditions have been associated in rare cases with vaccination.

However, according to Jessop, data from America shows a reduced risk of these rare side-effects from vaccination among children compared to adults.

“We have seen in America there are fewer side-effects of myocarditis and pericarditis than in older groups; that is really encouraging,” she said.

However, just like in the US, Irish data for Covid-infections also show a higher rate of hosptialisation for under-12s during the Omicron wave than during previous variant waves.

Reducing the risk of Long Covid

Even though statistics show that it is rare, there is a small risk of Long Covid for children as much as for any adult with the infection, she said and referred to a new British study showing that for adults vaccines reduce the risk of Long covid.

Children’s vaccinations are newer so there is little data on the interaction with Long Covid yet, she explained.

“We would encourage parents to come forward,” Dr Jessop, whose own child was recently vaccinated, said.