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Assurances for parents of teenagers and young children deemed to be at high risk from Covid-19

Date: 30 June 2021

Green Party TD, Steven Matthews has written to both Minister Donnelly and the HSE to request a clear outline of the plan to deal with children and young teenagers, not currently eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine, who suffer from conditions that could potentially make them highly vulnerable to the disease. Speaking after meeting with the family of one such teenager, Deputy Matthews said:

“This has been an extraordinarily challenging period for all of us but in particular for anyone with underlying conditions and their families. Thankfully, and huge credit must go to the HSE for this, the vast majority of those over the age of 16 with underlying conditions are either fully vaccinated or are very soon to be. As the vaccine rollout continues at pace, some consideration must now turn to those under the age of 16 who for various reasons are potentially vulnerable to Covid-19.

“I have spoken with a number of very concerned families whose children have ranged in age up to 15 years old and they are understandably worried for their wellbeing if they were to be exposed to Covid-19. I absolutely accept that generally speaking, children are much less likely to have serious symptoms and are generally at less risk than adults, but this is not necessarily the case when a child/ young teenager has an existing underlying condition.

“I claim no medical expertise in this area and I understand that we are reliant on the advice of NPHET, NIAC and the European Medicines Agency at an EU level but in my letters to both Minister Donnelly and the HSE, I have simply asked for some assurances for the families impacted and to ask if there is a plan to deal with vulnerable children whose families are very eager for them to be inoculated from Covid-19.

“It is my understanding that a number of our EU neighbours already have plans in place with regards to a rollout of the vaccine for under 16s. While we may not yet be in a position to do that, and I understand the focus needs to be on completing the current plan, at the very least I hope that clear assurances can be provided to the families of children and teenagers in vulnerable categories in order to ease some of their concerns.

“I will continue to offer any support that I can to these families and if there is anyone who wants to speak to me on the matter, I would ask them to get in touch and I would be more than happy to help in any way I can, concluded Deputy Matthews.

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