Babies as young as six months now to be offered Covid vaccine
Children over five can avail of it now.
Children as young as six months in Ireland are set to be offered the Covid-19 vaccine for the first time, reports suggest.
According to the Irish Independent, advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) shows that the eligibility for the vaccine is to be reduced to six months.
Currently, the vaccine is only available to those aged five years and older.
This move would require a statutory instrument and new protocols drawn up by the HSE’s national immunisation office before anything is rolled out to the public.
Parents will also be obliged to give their consent before the vaccine is administered.
Those who have babies that are very immunocompromised are expected to be the most likely to avail of the jab.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended in November that the use of Pfizer and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines for children aged six months to four years is the ideal scenario and that the doses of both vaccines in these younger age groups will be lower.
For this age group, the Pfizer vaccine can be given as a primary vaccination consisting of three doses of three micrograms each, with the first two given three weeks apart and a third then given eight weeks after the second.
For children aged six months to five years, the Moderna vaccine can be given as a primary vaccination consisting of two doses of 25 micrograms each, four weeks apart.
For both of these vaccines, the injections will be given in the upper arm or thigh.
A study of this age group showed that the immune response to the lower dose of Pfizer was comparable to that seen with the higher dose of 30 micrograms in 16- to 25-year-olds while a similar study for Moderna showed the immune response in children aged six months to five years to the lower dose of 25 micrograms was comparable to that seen with the higher dose of 100 micrograms in 18- to 25-year-olds.
The side effects for each vaccine in children this young were similar to older age groups, with irritability, sleepiness, loss of appetite, rash and tenderness at the injection site being most common for the Pfizer vaccine while irritability, crying, loss of appetite and sleepiness were most common in Moderna.
In both, the effects were usually mild and improved within a few days.