Jack Quann
Jack Quann

19.44 8 Sep 2021


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The Government has approved recommendations that will see older people receive a booster dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

The programme, announced by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, follows recommendations made by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC).

NIAC has recommended a booster dose of an mRNA vaccine for residents aged 65 years and older living in long-term residential care facilities.

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While those aged 80 years and older living in the community will also be offered a further dose.

It can be given after a minimal period of six months after completion of the primary vaccination schedule.

An mRNA vaccine (Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna) will be offered, regardless of whether the first vaccination course was an mRNA or adeno-viral vector (such as AstraZeneca or Janssen).

NIAC says it considered several factors including emerging evidence relating to decreasing immunity, vaccine effectiveness of a booster dose against the Delta variant and 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", it adds.

The Health Minister Stephen Donnelly Health Minister Stephen Donnelly. Picture by: Kacey O'Riordan/Newstalk

On the plans, Minister Donnelly says: "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."

He adds: "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".

WHO appeal

Last month, the World Health Organisation (WHO) made a direct appeal to Ireland not to give COVID 'booster' shots to the general population.

Dr David Nabarro told Newstalk countries like Ireland would be taking vaccines away from poor countries if such a programme went ahead.

"If rich countries are just buying all the vaccine and storing it up for boosters this winter, that actually is taking the vaccine away from the poor countries.

"So the real thing that we want rich countries to do is just not to do booster shots - not now and not for a few months - until poor countries have been able to get a vaccine.

"And in our view, there's no evidence that booster shots are necessary", he said.

Main image: A healthcare worker prepares to inject a person a COVID-19 vaccine in the Magdalena Contreras district of Mexico in February 2021. Picture by: Eyepix/SIPA USA/PA Images

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Booster Dose COVID Booster Delta Variant MRNA Vaccine NIAC Older People Residential Care Facilities Stephen Donnelly

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