Immunovirologist Professor Liam Fanning has called on all parents and guardians to encourage children aged 12 to 15 to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
His comments came as the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) recommended that Ireland’s vaccine rollout be extended to children aged between 12 and 15.
The consent of a guardian will be required for a child to receive the shot, with appointments hoped to start "as soon as possible".
Prof Fanning told RTÉ radio's Today with Claire Byrne show that trials in Israel had shown good clinical efficacy of the vaccine in that age cohort, with a 80 per cent to 100 per cent measure of protection. "It was a robust trial."
The level of prioritisation for the vulnerable in that age group would be a matter for Niac, he added, but he would encourage all parents and guardians to get children to have the vaccine.
'Spectre of long Covid'
"They do need to be vaccinated, there is still the spectre of long Covid,” Prof Fanning said.
Ireland was a society of nuclear families and children could be a repository for the virus, he warned.
Having teenagers vaccinated would give a more robust protection for education.
Any parents or guardians with concerns about the vaccine should discuss the risks and the benefits, but he said the risks were "very rare" and contracting Covid-19 would be much more serious.
It comes as Ireland's vaccine registration portal opened today for teenagers aged 16 and 17.
The first walk-in Covid-19 vaccination centres in the country are to open this weekend to encourage uptake among younger people, the Taoiseach has confirmed.