Children Will Have To Be Vaccinated To Attain Herd Immunity Says HSE Top Doc

HSE Chief Clinical Officer - Colm Henry

Children will need to be vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity amid fears surrounding the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant according to the HSE’s top doc.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee is examining further data on vaccinating teenagers and is expected to make recommendations to the Chief Medical Officer.

Dr Colm Henry, chief clinical officer at the HSE, said achieving herd immunity is now “the challenge across the world”.

What we thought initially, was a much cruder estimate a year ago based on the type of covid we were dealing with last year was 60-70% of the population.

But because we’re dealing with a much more transmissible variant, to reach that concept of herd immunity… the estimate has gone up certainly to 85-90% so yes, by extension, it would include extending to children too.”

Dr Henry said herd immunity is the “preferred goal”, however, he added that it was necessary to balance the risk of the vaccine with the risk of the virus for children, for whom the risk of severe incidence is low.

I don’t expect Niac to come out with emphatic recommendations. Certainly, they’re looking at teenagers, 12 to 16-year-olds, but younger age groups, I expect, is going to be much more complicated,” he added.

Meanwhile there are 1,189 new cases of Covid-19. 95 patients are in hospital with the virus, down one from yesterday, with 23 in intensive care.

The deputy chief medical officer says there’s been a very sharp increase in travel-related cases recently.

Dr Ronan Glynn says there have been over 800 in the past two weeks – and three quarters of those are under 35 years of age.