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Booster vaccine programme for over-60s to begin next week

A booster shot will only be given six months after a person received their second dose of the vaccine.

Image: Sam Boal

Updated Oct 28th 2021, 9:05 PM

BOOSTER VACCINES WILL be rolled out to more than 800,000 people aged over 60 starting from next week, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has confirmed.

The plan is that those aged between 60-69 will get their booster shot at a mass vaccination centre, while GPs will administer the jabs to those aged between 70 to 79.

The minister said the final details are still being worked through at the moment, stating that the HSE is looking at all possible options.

Some people in this age cohort will have to wait for the booster vaccine, as six months has to have elapsed since they received their second dose of the vaccine before they can get the booster.

Booster shots have already started to be rolled out for the over-80s, people in residential care aged over 65 and those who may be immunocompromised.

Anyone who got AstraZeneca as their first two doses will be getting Pfizer as their booster vaccine, the minister said.

The minister said he has also asked for the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan’s view on booster shots for those that got the single Janssen vaccine, and whether they can be given a second dose of the vaccine as a booster.

“We’re looking for authorisation for that,” he said.

The Irish Pharmacy Union criticised the decision not to include pharmacies in the campaign as “illogical”, saying it and will only serve to slow down the rollout of boosters.

“There are over 1,000 vaccinating pharmacies in Ireland located in towns and villages across the length and breadth of the country. As concern grows with rising case numbers it is imperative that booster vaccines are rolled out rapidly,” Kathy Maher, chair of the IPU’s pharmacy contractors committee said. 

Through the early months of the Covid-19 vaccination campaign community pharmacies were not included due to the shortage of supply. This is clearly no longer a consideration and so the failure to utilise the pharmacy sector in this latest phase is a major oversight.

The chief medical officer said yesterday that vaccinations are “not performing as well as hoped” in reducing the transmission of Covid-19, but that the vaccine has prevented thousands of hospital admissions, as well as hundreds of ICU admissions and deaths.

However, he said vaccinations on their own were not enough to stop the spread of the disease, and urged the public to stick to the basic measures of hand washing, mask wearing and isolating if they have symptoms.

“In truth they are probably not performing as well as we might have hoped in terms of preventing transmission,” he said.

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