From today, children aged between five and 11 years old who have a high-risk health condition can be registered by a parent or guardian to receive a Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

Children in this age group who live with a person considered higher risk, but are not necessarily high-risk themselves, can also be registered for a vaccine, according to the HSE.

The vaccines will be given at HSE vaccination centres from later this week. Once a parent registers their child, they will receive a text message with details of their appointment.

In a tweet this morning, Chief Executive of the HSE Paul Reid said vaccinations for these children will commence on 3 January.

For all remaining five to 11-year-olds, he said registration will commence shortly and vaccinations will commence on 8 January.

The decision to vaccinate five to 11-year-olds was made in November and follows similar moves abroad.

Appointments can be made at or by phone on 1800 700 700.

Director of Public Health, National Immunisation Office, Dr Lucy Jessop said the vaccine is a specially formulated Pfizer vaccine, but a lower dose from the adult version.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Dr Jessop said children will be given two doses about three weeks apart, and any child with a weakened immune system will get a third dose around 28 days after their second dose.

She said side effects of the vaccine will be similar for adults; children might experience some pain in the area where the jab is given, headaches, muscle pain, fever, which she said can all be treated with rest and paracetamol.

Dr Jessop said there are around 480,000 children to be vaccinated in total, but it was difficult to know the number of those with high-risk medical conditions who will be coming forward first.

She said 70% of children aged 12-15 are now fully vaccinated.

Dr Jessop advised parents of children with conditions to look at the HSE website so they become comfortable with the knowledge about vaccinating children.

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