Home International Ireland lowers Covid-19 vaccine age to 12 to boost strong takeup

Ireland lowers Covid-19 vaccine age to 12 to boost strong takeup

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Ireland has become the latest European Union member state to commit to offering Covid-19 vaccines to children aged 12-15.

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DUBLIN – Ireland became the latest European Union member state to commit to offering Covid-19 vaccines to children aged 12-15 as it opened its strongly subscribed programme to 16 and 17 year olds on Tuesday.

Ireland’s vaccine programme is currently running at one of the fastest rates in Europe, with almost 70% of its adult population fully vaccinated and more than 84% partially protected with the first of two doses – greatly reducing the rate of serious illness and death from Covid-19.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for use in teens, encouraging EU member states including France, Greece and Denmark to drop their vaccine age to 12.

The Irish government hopes those aged 12 to 15 will be fully vaccinated within the first half of September, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told national broadcaster RTE.

Ireland has been working its way down the age groups and will also for the first time open walk-in vaccination centres this weekend to encourage recently eligible younger people to get a shot, Prime Minister Micheál Martin said.

“This represents a very significant opening up of our vaccination programme. We want to encourage high participation rates now among these remaining age cohorts,” Martin told reporters.

The more transmissible Delta variant is leading to a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections in Ireland, particularly among younger people, although the seven-day growth rate has shown tentative signs of plateauing in recent days.

Ireland has reported 294,272 Covid-19 cases among its 4.9 million population, with 5,026 related deaths.

Menawhile, Moderna Inc is in talks with US regulators to expand the size of an ongoing trial testing its Covid-19 vaccines in children aged between five and 11, the drugmaker said on Monday.

The objective of the discussion with the US Food and Drug Administration is to enrol a larger safety database, which increases the likelihood of detecting rarer events, the company said.

Moderna expects to have a package that supports authorization in winter of 2021 or early 2022, a company spokesperson told Reuters.

Earlier on Monday, the New York Times reported that the US regulators have asked Pfizer Inc-BioNTech and Moderna to expand the size of the trial.

They claimed the strength of the studies was inadequate to detect the rare side effects, including myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle and pericarditis, an inflammation of the lining around the heart, the report said.

Pfizer said it has not provided any updates to its previously stated timelines. It had previously said it expects to have data for children aged between 5 and 11 in September.

The health regulator has asked the companies to include 3,000 children in their trials, almost double the original number of study participants, the NYT report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

The FDA did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.

– REUTERS

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