Republic of Ireland news

Students returning to campus in Republic to be offered Covid jab at pop-up vaccine clinics

The opening of the clinics at more than 15 college campuses is intended to coincide with first-year students attending college for the first time
Dominic McGrath and Cate McCurry, PA

Students returning to college today were able to receive a Covid-19 jab at pop-up vaccine clinics.

The opening of the clinics at more than 15 college campuses is intended to coincide with first-year students attending college for the first time.

The clinics are open at campuses across the country, including Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork and Dublin City University.

Other locations include NUI Galway, the University of Limerick and Maynooth University.

Niall Collins, skills and further education minister, said: “Today, thousands of students, many of them first years, are beginning an incredibly exciting chapter of their lives as they return to onsite studies.

“The priority of this department has always been to co-ordinate this significant milestone as safely as possible.

“That is why today, in conjunction with the HSE, pop-up vaccination clinics are being opened at campuses across the country to ensure maximum take-up among our student population.”

In the Republic, more than 90% of those aged 16 and older have been fully vaccinated, among the highest rates in the EU.

Mr Collins said: “Young people deserve immense praise for how they’ve handled the past 18 months and I want to wish them every success and happiness ahead of this historic academic year.”

The vaccination clinics will provide first or second doses to all students, including international students.

Many students will be attending a college campus for the first time after the vast majority of third-level education moved online last year due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has defended the decision to stop Covid-19 contact tracing in childcare and primary schools from Monday.

From today, contact tracing of close contacts in childcare facilities and primary education and testing of asymptomatic close contacts in childcare facilities and primary education is no longer necessary.

Children aged 12 or under, who are identified as close contacts in childcare and educational settings or other non-household settings and who are asymptomatic will no longer be required to routinely restrict movements.

The decision saw thousands of children who were deemed a close contact of a confirmed case return to school.

Mr Donnelly said the decision was made based on the “best advice” from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).

“It’s something the chief medical officer Dr (Tony) Holohan and I have discussed at great length,” Mr Donnelly said.

“I know that the HSE and many others right across the health care system are working very closely with the schools and with all of those in education and what I can say is this; the recommendation is because of such encouraging results from the schools.

“We had a huge number of students go back, we had teachers go back and what we are seeing is that the rate of infection is stable and many people are saying is it is actually falling.

“We are seeing a lot more testing and therefore the total number of cases may be going up and positivity has been low and remains low.

“Of course people will always be anxious but this is based on a very positive response and very carefully considered advice from the experts.”

He also said that any programme to vaccinate children aged five to 11 would not happen this year.

While the Dublin gsdovernment has not received a recommendation on vaccinating the younger age cohort, health officials are looking at it.

“The conversations that the chief medical officer and I have had is that we wouldn’t be expecting anything like that in this calendar year.

“We will keep that under close review.”

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