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What we know about the Covid-19 booster vaccine roll-out so far

Over a million booster vaccines have been administered so far in the rollout

People queue outside the Croke Park vaccination centre for a booster jab
People queue outside the Croke Park vaccination centre for a booster jab
Image: Sasko Lazarov

THE COVID-19 BOOSTER vaccine programme has been ongoing since September this year, with elderly and vulnerable people being able to access an extra dose of Covid-19 vaccine to improve their resilience to the virus.

While the programme has been moving steadily in recent months, with over a million booster jabs being administered by GPs, pharmacists and the HSE, where are we now in administering extra doses?

Currently, only a certain cohort of the public are eligible to receive a booster dose. This includes:

  • People over the age of 60
  • People between 16 and 59 who are medically vulnerable
  • People living in nursing homes or long-term healthcare facilities
  • Healthcare workers

Starting tomorrow, however, anyone over the age of 50 will be eligible to receive a booster shot and the HSE will begin offering appointments at vaccination centres. Those eligible will also be able to attend both GPs and pharmacists to receive their jab.

The current timeline for booster jabs after the 50+ cohort will be:

  • All pregnant women aged 16 or older
  • Everyone aged 40-49
  • Everyone aged 16-39

The HSE has said that people do not need to register for their booster dose, and that anyone under 70 will receive a text from the HSE to schedule an appointment. Anyone over 70 should be contacted by their GP.

For anyone who receives a text with their appointment and cannot attend, the HSE has said that they should respond by texting REJECT.

If they then need to receive a new appointment, they should reply to the text with NEW.

Speaking on Morning Ireland earlier today, HSE Chief Operations Officer Anne O’Connor said that the HSE will be offering walk-in vaccine clinics for people who are eligible to receive their Covid-19 booster.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that the booster doses for people under 40 would be done in tandem with vaccines for children between 5-11, which was approved by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly this morning.

Missed appointments

There have been concerns raised by the Taoiseach about the number of people who are not attending vaccine clinics for their booster vaccines, saying in the Dáil yesterday that 215,000 booster appointments were missed in the last two weeks.

In late November, The Journal reported that some people had faced issues trying to cancel appointments for booster vaccines, with problems contacting both the HSE online and over the phone.

The Taoiseach said that there were 208,000 appointments made in the week beginning 22 November, but only around 88,000 people attended. Last week, 180,000 appointments were made, with 93,000 people showing up.

O’Connor said that this was due to people attending either their GP or pharmacist to receive their vaccine before they receive a text from the HSE to offer them an appointment at a vaccine centre.

“What we ask people to do is to cancel their vaccination clinic appointment if they have received their vaccine by their GP or pharmacist,” said O’Connor.

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“We have a challenge, definitely, in terms of our system and we know that certainly there is a time lag at times.”

However, O’Connor says that people who attend walk-in centres for their booster jab will not receive additional appointments from the HSE.

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