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Minister for Health announces updates to Ireland’s COVID-19 Vaccination Programme

The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, has accepted new recommendations in relation to the COVID-19 booster vaccination programme.


The new recommendations were made by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), who has endorsed these recommendations.


The NIAC have recommended a booster dose of an mRNA vaccine in order of priority for:

  • pregnant women aged 16 years and older
  • those aged 40 - 49 years
  • those aged 16 - 39 years, in descending order by age e.g., by 10-year age cohorts.

In the case of those 16–39-year-olds who received COVID-19 vaccine Janssen as their primary vaccine, they can be offered a booster dose irrespective of their age after a minimum three-month interval.


As per previous booster dose recommendations, the additional dose will be given at least five months (three months for Janssen) following completion of the primary vaccination schedule.


Minister Donnelly said: “I welcome NIACs continuous review of all international evidence relating to booster doses. I am accepting and authorising these latest recommendations on the basis that a significant amount of planning will be required to operationalise these booster doses. No-one in these newly approved age cohorts has yet reached the recommended gap since the second dose.


“We continue to prioritise boosters because we know that they are having a positive impact on the level of hospitalisation, severe illness and mortality from COVID-19 in those aged over 70. I am also accelerating the booster rollout to those with underlying conditions and those in their 60s.”


The Minister added: “I would also like to once again, ask all those who are eligible for vaccination but who have yet to receive a primary dose to do so as a matter of urgency given the continuing high rates of infection in the community. We continue to see a high proportion of unvaccinated individuals requiring hospitalisation and critical care in ICU.”


If a person in a group for whom a booster dose is recommended has had laboratory confirmed COVID-19 infection after a completed primary vaccine course (i.e., a breakthrough infection), the booster dose should be delayed for at least six months after the COVID-19 infection was diagnosed.


NIAC have recommended that booster doses should be offered to those identified in previous recommendations i.e. those over 50 years, those of any age in long-term healthcare facilities, healthcare workers, and those with underlying conditions before progressing to these younger age cohorts. This is to ensure priority for booster vaccines is given to those at highest risk of severe disease.


This advice received by NIAC reflects the recommendations made in respect of booster doses in the latest European Centre of Disease Control (ECDC) rapid risk assessment published on November 24, these recommendations state that countries should consider a booster dose for all adults with priority being given to people aged 40 years of age and above.


Both NIAC and the ECDC point out that booster vaccinations are not an outbreak measure. There is a continuing need to adhere to public health measures including meeting fewer people and avoiding crowds, wearing a mask correctly if it is recommended for you, meeting outside if possible, avoiding poorly ventilated indoor spaces and practicing good hand and respiratory hygiene.






Letters to the Minister for Health from the CMO are available here.

Letter from NIAC to the CMO are available here.