The State has been advised to offer people over the age of 70 the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines where possible.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is due to feature heavily in the next stage of the programme; however, the latest recommendation from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) may force a rethink.
The AstraZeneca jab does not require the same super-cold storage as the mRNA-based Pfizer and Moderna offerings – meaning it is easier to rollout to older people through family doctors.
The NIAC recommendation makes it clear that all three vaccines are suitable for use for all ages; however, it says people over 70 should be given an mRNA vaccine where possible.
It notes that vaccination of people in that age group should not be delayed.
- It's first recommendation states: "Any currently authorised COVID-19 vaccine can be given to adults of all ages, including those aged
70 and older."
- The second recommendation says: "Vaccination of those aged 70 and older should not be delayed. Where practicable and timely, those aged 70 and older should be given an mRNA vaccine."
The new recommendation comes because there was a limited number of elderly people included in clinical trials for the AstraZeneca jab.
The European Medicines Agency has approved the vaccine for us in all adults; however, some EU member states are restricting its use among the elderly.
Health officials are now working to prioritise the rollout of the Pfizer and Moderna jabs through GP surgeries.