Covid-19: Irish vaccine programme to include 12-15-year-olds

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image source, Reuters

The Covid-19 vaccination programme in the Republic of Ireland is to be extended to include 12 to 15 year-olds.

The recommendation was made to the Irish government by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC).

Earlier, Taoiseach (Irish PM) Micheál Martin said there would be further advice from the NIAC on the matter.

He said it represented a "significant opening up" of the vaccination programme to younger people.

Mr Martin said it had been a "very effective" programme to date and the government wanted to encourage "heightened participation" among the remaining age groups.

It is understood that it will take a number of days for the Health Service Executive (HSE) to get the system for vaccinating those from 12 to 15 up and running, as it will require parental consent and parents or guardians will have to be present for the jabs.

The decision to extend the vaccination programme to those who are 12 and over has been strongly criticised by some on social media.

Opponents of the move say it is wrong that Irish children are being vaccinated when large numbers of front line workers dealing with Covid-19 in poorer countries are not.

Wedding numbers under discussion

Mr Martin also said the HSE would be adding walk-in vaccine centres over the bank holiday weekend to facilitate further vaccinations.

He emphasised that measures such as social distancing, wearing masks indoors and washing hands remained essential "even as we vaccinate significantly and as we move forward".

Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly urged people who are eligible to register for a Covid-19 vaccine to do so.

The vaccine portal opened to people aged 16 and 17 from Tuesday.

Mr Martin told reporters that 84% of the adult population in the Republic now had a first jab and nearly 70% were fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the numbers allowed to attend a wedding will rise to 100 after 5 August, the Irish cabinet agreed on Tuesday.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the decision was made "in principle" and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly will give clarity around the detail.

Under current public health guidelines in the Republic of Ireland, the number of guests who can attend a wedding is limited to 50.

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