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Stephen Donnelly: 'No plan' to vaccinate under-30s before older age group

The Minister for Health said there is no proposal to vaccinate younger people against COVID-19 be...
Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

12.49 18 Apr 2021


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Stephen Donnelly: 'No plan' to...

Stephen Donnelly: 'No plan' to vaccinate under-30s before older age group

Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

12.49 18 Apr 2021


Share this article


The Minister for Health said there is no proposal to vaccinate younger people against COVID-19 before older cohorts.

Stephen Donnelly is reported yesterday as asking his department to examine the possibility of vaccinating people aged 18 to 30 before those aged 30 to 50.

It is just over two weeks since the Government made changes to the rollout, removing certain professions from the list to prioritise older people first.

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Opposition parties accused the Minister of causing confusion and of undermining his own Government's recently introduced age-based system.

Minister Donnelly is quoted in The Irish Times as saying: “I’ve asked the department to assess the case for vaccinating younger cohorts earlier, on the basis of reducing overall transmission as quickly as possible.

But speaking to On The Record with Gavan Reilly today, he said that there is no plan to alter the age-based rollout as it stands.

"NIAC in their original prioritisation identified younger cohorts as cohorts who had a higher prevalence of the disease and what they said was if the data on transmission gets to a point where vaccinations show a very significant decrease in transmission, then this group should be prioritised," he explained.

Stephen Donnelly: 'No plan' to vaccinate under-30s before older age group

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"Certainly it wasn't floated and there is no plan in place, I simply asked the Deputy CMO his view, given that it was in NIAC, given that we are always doing all we can to make the programme as effective as possible.

"I can tell you that the Deputy CMO came back [after] I'd said, 'Is the transmission data at that point', and he said no, it's not.

"It was one of many questions we regularly ask about the programme."

The Minister added that with regard to the current vaccine rollout programme, "nothing is being thrown out the window" and there is "no plan" or "no proposal" to prioritise people under 30 for the vaccine over older age cohorts.

"All I was doing was checking in with the Deputy CMO to see where we are with the transmission data, he said it isn't there, and that's it," he said.

The Health Minister Stephen Donnelly tours the HSE Covid-19 vaccination centre in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

He stated that his department, NIAC and NPHET are "constantly probing" all aspects related to the vaccine programme around rollout, sequencing, centres and public health measures.

"But on this specific issue, there was no plan, there is no forecast, nothing was being floated," Minister Donnelly said.

"I was simply asked, 'Is this something you have looked into', and I said, 'Yeah it is', I'd looked for an update and the update is no, this is not something which would be supported by the data."

Mandatory quarantine

Minister Donnelly said Ireland has "by quite a long way" the strongest measures in place to prevent the importation of coronavirus and its variants.

"I think, critically, what we're seeing is that they're working," he said.

It comes as the European Commission urged Ireland to pursue less restrictive rules for incoming travellers.

A spokesperson said on Thursday there were concerns in relation to the general principles of European Union law, in particular proportionality and non-discrimination.

"We have a very strong relationship with the European Commission, but let's make no mistake, our primary objective and my primary focus as Minister for Health is keeping people in Ireland safe," Minister Donnelly stated.

He added that it was concerning 77 cases of a variant, which was first discovered in India, have been identified in the UK.

The Deputy CMO, Dr Ronan Glynn, is examining this development and may consider whether further restrictions will be placed on travellers from the UK.

Main image: Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly speaking to media before entering Government Buildings for a Cabinet meeting last week. Photograph: Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie

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