Taoiseach agrees 'in principle' with giving Covid vaccines to children aged 5 to 11 

Pfizer last week said it intended to seek approval from authorities in the US and EU for use of the vaccine on those aged five to 11
Taoiseach agrees 'in principle' with giving Covid vaccines to children aged 5 to 11 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin was speaking to reporters in New York where is attending the United Nations General Assembly. Picture: John Minchillo-Pool/Getty Images

The Taoiseach has said he supports the principle of vaccinating young children against Covid-19 but said any decision must factor in supplies of vaccines to developing countries.

Micheál Martin said a vaccinated world depends on supplies being made available to the poorest nations by those who have surpluses.

This, he said, poses a moral question over whether to use vaccines for young children, who are unlikely to get seriously ill from the virus. 

Pfizer last week said it intends to seek approval from US and EU authorities for the use of the vaccine on those aged five to 11.

The company studied a lower dose of its two-jab vaccine in more than 2,200 nursery and primary school-aged children.

They developed coronavirus-fighting antibody levels that are just as strong as teenagers and young adults, the company said.

"I've no issue with the principle of that (vaccinating children)," the Taoiseach said.

"But I would be bound by public health guidance. The public health teams will have to weigh up the benefits for the child in respect of receiving the vaccine as opposed to the risks to the child.

"So that will have to be a public health and clinical issue. We vaccinate children in a whole range of other areas.

"So I'm of the view in terms of the events of humankind, that vaccines overall have been extremely effective historically, in dealing with many, many viruses, but it remains to be seen in terms of the risk assessment.

"Then we have to be conscious of Africa, which is in a very low single-digit number 1%-3% [of the population vaccinated] in some countries in Africa.

"So there is a point in time where we've got to say the vaccines need to be used elsewhere. We have to really up the level of vaccination in less developed regions.

"These are considerations we will have to seriously take on board as a country because the mutations will grow, variants will arise if we have parts of the world which are not vaccinated."

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