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40,000 booster and extra Covid vaccines administered so far in Ireland

The programme was rolled out on 27 September.

MORE THAN 40,000 booster or extra doses of Covid vaccines have been administered so far in Ireland.

The booster programme was rolled out across the country on 27 September, starting with people living in long-term residential care facilities aged over 65 and people in the general population over the age of 80.

People over the age of 12 who are immunocompromised will also receive an extra dose of a Covid vaccine.

The process is expected to take between five and six weeks to complete.

An estimated 8,000 doses had been administered in care homes as of 8 October.

The administration of boosters to the over-80s is taking place through the GP system, where an estimated 28,600 doses had been administered as of the same date.

More than 12,000 appointments have been offered to people with weakened immune systems, with 6,649 doses administered as of Sunday 10 October.

There is a difference between a booster dose and an extra dose.

Booster doses are administered to people with normal immune systems, and are viewed as a way of boosting immunity which may have waned over time.

They can be administered from six months after their second dose of a Covid vaccine (or the single-dose Janssen vaccine).

Extra doses are administered to people with weakened immune systems who may not have the same level of protection from the initial two doses as other people; they are seen as an extended vaccination schedule.

They can be administered from as little as two months after the second dose or single-dose.

This includes groups such as cancer patients or people who have received a transplant.

All booster or extra doses being administered in Ireland are mRNA vaccines – Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna – regardless of whether the initial vaccine administered to a person was mRNA or viral vector (AstraZeneca and Janssen) – and are administered off-label.

Recent studies have shown that the effectiveness of vaccines against infection from the Delta variant reduces over time, and that the efficacy of certain vaccines declines quicker than others - though still prevent serious illness and death.

There is extensive debate about whether a booster injection for people with normal immune systems is appropriate at a time when two-thirds of the world’s population has not even received a first dose.

NIAC issued its recommendation to chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan, who endorsed the advice, in early September.

A statement from the Department of Health outlined that “in coming to their recommendations, NIAC considered the emerging evidence relating to decreasing immunity, vaccine effectiveness of a booster dose against the Delta variant of Covid-19 in protecting against serious disease including hospitalisations, ICU admissions and death, as well as safety data in respect of a booster dose”.

It also considered “global vaccine equity and upholding the principles of minimising harm, fairness and moral equality as outlined in the National Vaccine Allocation Framework”.

More information from the HSE on extra doses can be found here and for booster doses here.

Additional reporting by Lauren Boland and Stephen McDermott.

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