Parents across the State are being encouraged to get their children vaccinated against Covid-19.
The plea from public health officials comes as the Department of Health confirmed 21,926 new cases of the virus on Friday.
As of 8am on Friday, there were 936 patients with Covid in hospital, 84 of whom were in ICU.
Meanwhile, the vaccination programme is currently open to children aged 5 to 11-years-old who have a health condition which puts them at risk of severe illness from Covid, or those who live with someone who is at higher risk from the virus.
From Saturday, vaccinations will open to all children aged 5 to 11-years-old.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly urged parents to get their children vaccinated, stating: “Over the Christmas period we reported the highest daily numbers of confirmed Covid-19 cases.
“As we wait for more evidence to emerge on the severity of infection with the Omicron variant, it is important that we continue to encourage all of those eligible for vaccination to come forward."
“Vaccination offers an extra level of protection for all of us.
“It is important to discuss the Covid-19 vaccine with your child. As a parent of children in this age group myself, I know that children have many questions about Covid-19 and about this vaccine, and it is important to ensure they can access the information material the HSE have made available," he added.
Speaking earlier on Friday, HSE chief executive Paul Reid said he was happy with the pace at which children were being registered for the vaccine, adding that 73,000 of 480,000 eligible children have registered been registered to date.
Mr Reid said he wants the campaign for children to roll-out in a calm manner, adding that he fully respected parental concerns over getting their children vaccinated and wanted them to avail of all the information available.
COVID-19 vaccine registration is now open for all children aged 5-11. A parent or legal guardian will need to give consent for their child to get a COVID-19 vaccine. To register & give consent for your child, visit our website: https://t.co/O9azIrrlua#ForUsAll | #COVIDVaccines pic.twitter.com/vwLxWI4A30
— HSE Ireland (@HSELive) January 6, 2022
Chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Council (Niac), Professor Karina Butler said all potential risks and benefits of vaccination, including the direct and indirect effects on health and wellbeing, were considered before the vaccine was recommended for children.
“The potential benefits of vaccination are most obvious for children with underlying conditions, and, as such, Niac have recommended that this group be prioritised for vaccination,” Prof Butler explained.
“As a paediatric doctor, I know that many parents and guardians will have genuine concerns and questions about Covid-19 vaccination for their children.
“However, when the available evidence relating to the risk Covid-19 can pose to some children, as well as the significant negative impact on the lives of all of them, particularly the educational and social lives of our children, are considered, the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks.
“I urge all parents and guardians to encourage their children to receive their Covid-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to them.”