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Booster vaccines approved for all adults: Pregnant women and 40 to 49s next in line for jabs

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said a significant amount of planning will be required now.

Image: Shutterstock

THE HEALTH MINISTER has accepted expert advice that everyone in Ireland over the age of 16 should be given a Covid-19 vaccine booster dose.

The new recommendations were made by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), who has endorsed the recommendations.

NIAC recommended a booster dose of an mRNA vaccine in order of priority for:

  • pregnant women aged 16 years and older;
  • those aged 40 – 49 years;
  • those aged 16 – 39 years, in descending order by age in 10-year cohorts. 

The additional dose will be given at least five months following completion of the primary vaccination schedule, except for those who received the Janssen vaccine.

In the case of those 16–39-year-olds who received the Janssen jab as their primary vaccine, they can be offered a booster dose irrespective of their age after a minimum three-month interval.

If a person has had laboratory confirmed Covid-19 infection after completing their primary vaccine course, the booster should be delayed for at least six months after they were diagnosed. 

It is understood that the boosters plan was due to be announced next week, but due to spread of the virus now in the community and due to concerns about reports of the variant detected in South Africa, it was expedited. 
Most 40 to 49-year-olds who registered for their vaccines when the portal opened for their age cohort, and who were given an mRNA vaccine,  received their first and second doses over the summer. Many of those will be approaching the end of their five month gap in the coming weeks. However, for other age cohorts, that five month gap may take them into the new year.

Minister Stephen Donnelly said a significant amount of planning will be required now. 

“We continue to prioritise boosters because we know that they are having a positive impact on the level of hospitalisation, severe illness and mortality from Covid-19 in those aged over 70,” he said.

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“I am also accelerating the booster rollout to those with underlying conditions and those in their 60s.”

The Minister said the health service continues to see a high proportion of unvaccinated individuals requiring hospitalisation and critical care in ICU and he urged anyone who is eligible for a vaccine to take one. 

NIAC have recommended that booster doses should be offered to those identified in previous recommendations, ie those over 50 years, those of any age in long-term healthcare facilities, healthcare workers, and those with underlying conditions before progressing to these younger age cohorts.

The Department of Health is to ensure priority for booster vaccines is given to those at highest risk of severe disease.

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