The Taoiseach says he will support the vaccination of children as young as five, as soon as NIAC gives the go-ahead.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer vaccine for use in children aged five to 11-years-old at the end of last month.
The US agency said children should be given two doses; however, it said they should each be one-third of the dose administered to adults.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has yet to advise on the matter, with an official recommendation expected in the coming weeks.
Speaking in Cork this morning, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said NIAC will then make a decision on how to move forward.
“I would support the rollout to children in due course – once it is authorised by the relevant authorities who have the clinical expertise to make that recommendation,” he said. “That is some time away.”
He said he expects the EMA recommendation in “the next week or two.”
“Then there will be a different calibration here because the dosage for children would be much lower than the dosage for adults,” he said.
“You are not looking in terms of an immediate administration because of the fact it would be a different operation – but it is something that is on the agenda and on the horizon certainly.”
He said he does not expect any rollout to begin before Christmas, “given all of the things that have to be done organisationally and logistically to put it together.”
“Obviously, the vaccines for children would be developed by the companies in terms of volumes and production and so on to be supplied,” he said. “But that is looking like the next stage, certainly, on the horizon and certainly on the agenda.”
“It is a further step on the road to really dealing with this pandemic and we will certainly be ready for it once those recommendations come.”
Mr Martin was speaking before meeting with senior ministers this evening to discuss economic supports for the hospitality sector in the wake of the midnight curfew on bars, restaurants and nightclubs.
Industry representatives are calling for the Employment Wage Subsidy and Pandemic Unemployment Payment schemes to be extended for the sector.
Asked whether either payment would be extended, Mr Martin said the Cabinet sub-committee would consider whether there are enough vacancies in the sector to take on anyone who finds themselves out of work due to the curfew.
“We will do an assessment as to whether hospitality can absorb any staff that may not be fully retained in the night-time economy because of measures we have taken,” he said. “So that is something we will assess as well.
“As things stand, the feedback has been one of a lot of vacancies in the hospitality sector and challenges in terms of recruiting staff so that is the balance that has to be weighed up in that regard.”