The HSE is pleasantly surprised by the uptake so far.
Over 42,000 children aged between 12 and 15 have registered for their COVID-19, the HSE has confirmed.
Paul Reid admitted he was “pleasantly surprised” by the high number of children being registered.
There are an estimated 280,000 children in the cohort.
The head of the HSE said Ireland’s vaccine programme is reaching the final stage. It is believed over 3 million people in Ireland are now fully vaccinated. By this weekend 90% of adults will be at least partially vaccinated and 80% will be fully vaccinated.
He said, “After a horrendous 17 months… the vaccination programme has served to facilitate the reopening of society.”
The vaccine has yet to be approved for children under the age of 12, said the director of the National Immunisation Office, Dr Lucy Jessop.
NIAC has stressed that vaccinating children is the best way to protect them from COVID-19. They said: “We are dealing with a novel infection that we know can have consequences for children.”
Professor Karina Butler, head of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee, reassured parents that the vaccine is safe.
“We feel it will be a step towards giving children the wider benefit and normalising their growing up and life experience as they have suffered greatly during the pandemic from all those extra curtailments on life.”
“I can understand why parents might be hesitant because this is a novel vaccine, but we’re also dealing with a novel infection that we know can have consequences for children.”
“We believe that the benefits outweigh the risks and thus we have recommended that the vaccine be made available for those aged 12 to 15 years of age.”
She added, “The reason we’ve made these recommendations is to protect children from the very mild infections of COVID and from the very rare complications of COVID that can affect even healthy children rarely.”
“We would absolutely encourage those who have underlying medical conditions that put them at higher risk of Covid to avail of the vaccine as soon as it is offered.”
Most children will only have mild symptoms if they test positive for COVID-19, but there are rare complications like an inflammatory condition, which tends to occur weeks after infection. Children can also suffer from long Covid.
“Some children, mainly those with underlying conditions, can end up seriously ill,” NIAC warned.