A CORK GP has advised parents who may have concerns about registering their child for a Covid-19 vaccine to have a discussion with the child before doing so.
Dr John Sheehan of Blackpool Bridge Surgery made the comments as more than 50,000 children aged 12-15 were registered for a Covid-19 vaccine in the first 24 hours of registration being open for that age group.
Vaccination centres will open to children aged 12-15 this weekend. Consent is required in advance or on the day of vaccination for a child to receive the jab.
To register for the vaccine, parents need the child’s PPS number, an eircode, phone number, and email address. Children without a PPS can be registered over the phone.
Dr Sheehan said he would recommend the vaccine for this age group.
“I certainly would recommend it, because all the evidence shows that it is safe and it is effective and, as a country, we really have seen the benefits of vaccination in terms of hospitalisations, so it does seem to make a difference,” he said.
“Particularly, young people do quite well, but some of them will get long Covid, and that can be very tough on young people.”
Dr Sheehan said it is more difficult for parents to make the decision for someone that they are caring for as “you’re always wondering are you making the right decision for them, and that happens in any aspect of life, but what I would say to people is the evidence is very strong for it”.
He also recommended talking to the child, as they know about Covid-19 and vaccinations, and may have seen older siblings or peers receive their vaccine.
“Ask them what they would like to do, and take their view into consideration,” he said.
Having that discussion is very important, because it educates the child on why they should get it, but also for parents, it might alleviate some of that anxiety and concern as well, so that’s really important.
He said while schools would not refuse entry to any child who does not receive a vaccine, that it is recommended and gives families, particularly those with grandparents or vulnerable individuals, peace of mind.
The HSE estimates there are around 280,000 children aged 12-15 in Ireland. HSE chief executive Paul Reid said they will be offered an appointment “very quickly”.
He could not provide a figure for the number of children the HSE expects to vaccinate over the weekend, but was “pleasantly surprised” by the volume of registrations so far.
The latest HSE figures show 66% of teenagers aged 16 and 17 have been registered for a jab. Vaccination opened for that age group on July 27 and, as things stand, 61% are partially vaccinated and 7% have had both jabs.
Director of public health at the HSE’s National Immunisation Office, Dr Lucy Jessop, said that was an “extremely high uptake for those younger people”.