25 children under the age of five have been hospitalised in intensive care with COVID-19, the HSE has revealed as it urges parents to vaccinate them.
Since the pandemic began, some 60,000 children aged four and under have been diagnosed with the virus and from today, babies as young as six months old are able to get COVID vaccinations.
Eileen Whelan, HSE National Lead for the COVID-19 vaccine programme, said it is “rare” for young children to get seriously ill from disease but stressed it is not unheard of.
“When we look at the numbers, 1,075 children have been hospitalised in the 0-4 age group with COVID and of that 25 children have been admitted to paediatric intensive care,” Ms Whelan told The Pat Kenny Show.
“So, it does happen.”
Over a million American children under five have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and the jab has a 73% efficacy rate.
“This is particularly being encouraged for children who have underlying medical conditions and those children are at higher risk if they get COVID,” Ms Whelan said.
“However, this vaccine is recommended for all children within that age group because those children can be living in a household where there’s a vulnerable adult or another vulnerable child and getting the vaccine minimises the transmission and [reduces] the severity of illness.”
Ms Whelan stressed that the vaccine is “safe” for children and that any side effects are minor.
“The most common side effect from the vaccine would be slight redness at the injection site,” she said.
“Maybe a tiny bit of swelling - and some of the more severe side effects… might be that the child is off their food a little bit, maybe tired immediately after getting the vaccine.”
Bookings can be made on the HSE’s website.
Main image: Nurse giving a baby a vaccine in the leg. Picture by: Alamy.com