Healthcare news

Children aged 12-15 to be offered Covid-19 vaccine

"This move will help protect young people from catching Covid-19 and is expected to prevent disruption in schools by reducing transmission"

Children aged 12-15 will be offered a first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, Health Minister Robin Swann has announced.

Mr Swann said the age group will be offered one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, primarily through a school-based vaccination programme. Parental consent will be sought prior to vaccination. 

Children who are ‘at risk’ will receive two doses, eight weeks apart, in line with JCVI advice.

He said the school inoculation programme will be supported by GPs where necessary.

The minister said that, while the majority of jabs will be delivered in schools, there will be alternative arrangements for those who are home-schooled or in secure services.

The health minister's decision comes after the UK's four chief medical officers recommended the move.

"I have carefully considered the advice provided by the four UK chief medical officers and have accepted their recommendation to expand the vaccination programme to all those aged 12-15," said Mr Swann.

"This move will help protect young people from catching Covid-19 and is expected to prevent disruption in schools by reducing transmission."

A programme for this age group in the Republic started last month and uptake has been high.

Read more: Mass vaccination of 12-15 year-olds could begin 'within weeks' (premium)

Around 98,000 children and teenagers would be eligible for the jab in the north - at a time of soaring infection rates in those aged 10 to 14.

Sources have told the Irish News the Public Health Agency (PHA) will work closely with the education system in administering doses, as the agency currently leads on other schools' vaccine programmes.

Read more: Rural GP experiences 'worst week' of pandemic as many young people 'put off' getting Covid tested

Meanwhile, Health Minister Robin Swann has confirmed that a Covid booster vaccination programme will commence this month. The jabs will be offered to those in phase one of the original vaccination rollout.

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