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HSE cancels AstraZeneca vaccine appointments for rest of this week

Immunisation clinics using the AstraZeneca vaccine will still go ahead for certain people over the age of 60.

Image: RollingNews.ie

ALL ASTRAZENECA VACCINATION appointments are cancelled for the rest of this week, except those arranged for certain people over the age of 60, the HSE has announced. 

Following the decision by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) yesterday to recommend that the AstraZeneca vaccine (known as Vaxzevria) only be used in Ireland for those over the age of 60, the HSE cancelled all AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccination clinics planned for today. 

In an update this evening, it said all hospital groups and healthcare organisations had been advised to cancel all AstraZeneca clinics for the remainder of this week as “we work to reconfigure our rollout plans to take in to account the latest NIAC guidance”.

The HSE said that some clinics will proceed with the vaccination of patients over the age of 60 this week, in line with the new guidance, and in these cases individuals will be contacted directly by their vaccination centre to arrange their appointment. 

“Anybody who is due to attend an Astra Zeneca clinic, and who is not contacted directly in advance, is therefore advised not to attend,” a HSE spokesperson said, adding that it will be in contact with such patients to rearrange their appoinment. 

NIAC’s advice for those who have received a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is: 

  • Those aged 60 and older should receive their second dose 12 weeks later as scheduled.
  • Those aged under 60 years with a very high risk or high-risk medical condition should receive their second dose 12 weeks later as scheduled.
  • Those aged under 60 years without a very high risk or high-risk medical condition should have the scheduled interval between doses extended to 16 weeks to allow further assessment of the benefits and risks as more evidence becomes available.

AstraZeneca is expected to supply 813,000 doses to Ireland in Q2 – 224,000 in April, 262,000 in May and 327,000 in June.

NIAC recommended yesterday that the vaccine be given only to people aged over 60 after reports of rare blood clotting events emerged. Those rare blood clotting events occur in 4-10 cases in every million AZ vaccine doses administered, in which one person may die.

Speaking at the Oireachtas Health Committee, Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) are always concerned about vaccine hesitancy and are aware of the need to maintain confidence in the programme.

He said they have tried to be proactive in communicating the rationale behind decisions, such as yesterday’s announcement, stating that “safety comes first”.

On the impact of the change, Dr Glynn said the vaccine only accounts for 20% of the total stocks over the next eight weeks and there are still many people who have not been vaccinated yet and who are eligible for this particular vaccine.

He said he expects some people over the age of 60 will get their vaccine earlier than they otherwise would have.

Ireland’s vaccine rollout took another blow today with Johnson & Johnson’s announcement that it will “proactively delay” the rollout of its Covid-19 vaccine to Europe as US health agencies recommended a precautionary pause in the use of the jab.

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Ireland is scheduled to receive 40,800 doses of the single-shot J&J Covid-19 vaccine this month, and over 600,000 in total up to the end of June. The first scheduled delivery of 14,000 doses was expected in Ireland tomorrow. 

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Adam Daly

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