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Changes announced to COVID vaccination programme, including second booster for 50-64 year-olds

The Department of Health and the HSE will now work to operationalise these updates.

NIAC also recommended that COVID-19 vaccines may be given at the same time as seasonal flu vaccines.
NIAC also recommended that COVID-19 vaccines may be given at the same time as seasonal flu vaccines.
Image: Shutterstock

CHANGES TO IRELAND’S COVID-19 vaccination programme have been announced by the Minister for Health.

Minister Stephen Donnelly has accepted new recommendations from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee and the Department of Health and the HSE will now work to operationalise these updates.  

NIAC has recommended:

  • A first mRNA booster vaccine for those aged 5-11 years who are immunocompromised
  • A second mRNA booster vaccine for those aged 50-64 years
  • A second mRNA booster vaccine for those aged 12-49 years who have an underlying medical condition or are residents of long-term care facilities
  • A second mRNA booster vaccine for pregnant women at 16 weeks or later who have not already received a booster vaccine in their current pregnancy
  • A second mRNA booster vaccine for healthcare workers
  • A third mRNA booster vaccine for those aged 65 years and older, and those aged 12-64 years who are immunocompromised

NIAC has also recommended that COVID-19 vaccines may be given at the same time as the seasonal flu vaccines.

Booster doses should be given four months after a previous COVID-19 vaccine dose or a previous COVID infection.

The Department of Health says a booster dose after an infection has been shown to provide additional protection.

It continues to be recommended that people get and complete their primary vaccine course and booster shot(s) if they haven’t already done so.

Minister Donnelly said “we have very high protection in the population thanks to our successful vaccine programme” and added that “the Autumn vaccination programme will ensure we continue to protect the most vulnerable in our communities”.

He also said the “evidence suggests that a second booster dose may reduce infection rates, which would help sustain the healthcare system coming into the winter months”.

The Health Minister added: “The main purpose of vaccination is to prevent serious illness, hospitalisation and death. As such, I urge anyone yet to receive their primary course or booster vaccine do so as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, interim Chief Medical Officer, Professor Breda Smyth said “there is clear evidence that the Omicron variant has been less severe than previous variants due to the high uptake of vaccines”.

And while Professor Smyth noted the “recent surge in infections”, she said this has “not translated into the same pressure on our hospitals and people getting severely unwell” and that “COVID-19 vaccines have been remarkably effective in this regard”.  

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