There is “very strong evidence” backing the need for people over the age of 65 to come forward for their second booster.
Registration for the second booster yesterday opened for the over 65s and people with weak immune systems.
The first appointments are going ahead at vaccination centres around the country today – with GPs and pharmacies due to join the rollout in the coming weeks.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, the Head of the HSE vaccine programme Dr Damien McCallion said there is ‘very strong’ evidence backing the benefits of the second booster.
“I can’t emphasise that enough,” he said. “They did a very thorough international review.
“They looked at the evidence and they were very strong in relation to asking people to come forward.
“I can’t stress strongly enough that the medical evidence and the advice from our key medical staff is very clear that in order to prevent hospitalisation, severe illness and death that people do come forward.”
He said there are around 750,000 people eligible for the second booster, including 50,000 immunocompromised people.
He said the booster is only available to people who got their last booster more than four months ago and has not been COVID-positive within the last four months.
Mr McCallion said it is still not clear whether people will need to be boosted a third time when winter sets in – but the HSE is prepared for that eventuality.
“What NIAC (National Immunisation Advisory Committee) has said is, they haven’t concluded on that at the moment,” he said.
“There are some observations in the recent advice in relation to the potential for an autumn vaccination programme and we have already been working for the last couple of months on a possible plan for that.
“We are looking at how we can align that with the flu from a practical perspective. So, we are just currently finalising plans even in the absence of clear advice so we are prepared for whatever may come in the autumn.”
You can find out everything you need to know about the second booster rollout here:
- You can register for your second booster here.
- The second booster is available to everyone over the age of 65 as well as everyone over 12 who is immunocompromised.
- The booster is only available to people who got their last booster more than four months ago and have not been COVID-positive within the last four months.
- People over the age of 30 will be offered a Moderna booster.
- People under the age of 30 will be offered a Pfizer booster.
- Booster appointments are available at vaccine centres around the country from today.
- GPs will join the rollout in the coming weeks and will be contacting eligible patients directly.
- Pharmacies will come on stream in the first week of May.
- The HSE will be beginning nursing home visits in the coming weeks. Officials will also be visiting people who are housebound to administer the booster.
- People attending for a booster should bring a photo ID such as a passport, driver's licence, Garda age card or student/school ID.