The Government is ready to administer Covid vaccines to primary school children if European regulators approve it, the Taoiseach has said.
Micheál Martin said, however, it was unlikely children in the five to 11 age group will get the jab here before Christmas, given the timeline and logistics involved.
As the Irish Examiner reports, Mr Martin was speaking at Terence McSwiney College in Cork city at the launch of College Awareness week.
He was asked for his response to the news that Canada has authorised the use of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11.
The incidences of Covid-19 in Canada are now highest among those in the five-to-11 bracket.
Mr Martin said the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which has since October been evaluating the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on children aged between five and 11, is expected to issue its recommendation soon – possibly within the next two weeks.
“My view there is that we will then have to go to Niac here, but I would support the rollout to children in due course once it’s authorised by the relevant authorities who have the clinical expertise to make that recommendation,” he said.
“But we have to get the recommendation from the EMA, similar to the FDA, and that I believe is due within the next week or two, but then there will be a different calibration here because the dosage for children will be much lower than the dosage for adults.
“But it’s something on the horizon and on the agenda – all in the context of the advice we will receive.”
However, he said it was unlikely children under 12 here will get vaccines before Christmas, given the logistical and organisational issues involved around manufacturing, distributing and administering smaller doses for children.
“It’s on the horizon and on the agenda and I know the Chief Medical Officer and others are very conscious of what’s going on at the European level and what’s going on in the United States in terms of FDA approval."
He said it is a further step on the road to dealing with this pandemic, and he said they certainly will be ready when those recommendations come.
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech has submitted data to the EMA that they say supports the use of their mRNA vaccine for young children.
The vaccine was found to induce a strong immune response in five- to 11-year-olds in a clinical trial of 2,268 participants, the companies said in September.