Health Minister Stephen Donnelly issues update on vaccine programme and booster jabs

By Marita Moloney

Ireland is set to begin rolling out booster Covid-19 vaccines after new advice was issued by public health officials.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly announced the updates to the vaccination programme on the foot of recommendations from NIAC and the Chief Medical Officer.

Dr Tony Holohan endorsed the recommendations made by NIAC, which means thousands of vulnerable and elderly people will be in line to receive booster shots.

An additional dose of an mRNA vaccine will be made available for those people aged 65 and older who are living in Long Term Residential Care Facilities.

People who are 80 years of age and above and who are living in the community will also be offered the jab.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly (Gareth Chaney/Collins)

Pfizer or Moderna vaccines will be given, regardless of whether these were the inoculations given in the primary vaccination course.

Booster vaccines will be given after a minimum of six months after eligible people completed their first course of immunisations.

In coming to their recommendations, NIAC considered "the emerging evidence relating to decreasing immunity, vaccine effectiveness of a booster dose against the Delta variant of COVID-19 in protecting against serious disease including hospitalisations, ICU admissions and death, as well as safety data in respect of a booster dose", according to a statement from the Department of Health.

Consideration was also given to "global vaccine equity and upholding the principles of minimising harm, fairness and moral equality", as outlined in the National Vaccine Allocation Framework.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said: “Once again this week, we have seen some of the necessary public health restrictions eased thanks to the enormous efforts the Irish people have made to continue to follow the public health advice and, in particular in relation to our amazing levels of vaccine uptake.

"Vaccination remains our pathway out of this pandemic, and as with the earlier phases of our vaccination programme, this update to the programme ensures that we continue to prioritise our most at risk loved ones from the risks posed by Covid-19.

"I am aware that operationalising these updates to our vaccination programme will take a short period of time.

"I will continue to work with my Department, the HSE and the High-Level Task Force to implement these recommendations as safely and efficiently as possible.”

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