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

The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD has announced a further update to Ireland’s COVID-19 Vaccination Programme. These updates follow recommendations made by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO). The CMO has endorsed these recommendations.

NIAC have recommended a booster dose of an mRNA vaccine (irrespective of whether primary vaccination course was of an mRNA or adeno-viral vector) for residents aged 65 years and older living in Long Term Residential Care Facilities and for those aged 80 years and older living in the community. The booster dose can be given after a minimal interval of six months following completion of the primary vaccination schedule.

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.

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.

Minister 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.”