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No plans to change validity of Covid Pass to include the booster jab, says Varadkar

The Tánaiste said he believes more evidence will emerge that the Covid vaccine is a three-dose vaccine.

THERE ARE NO plans to change the validity of the Covid Pass to incorporate the booster vaccine, the Tánaiste has confirmed this evening. 

British prime minister Boris Johnson recently stated being fully vaccinated no longer meant having two Covid vaccine doses, but rather three doses. 

Israel now states that a person will need a third dose to become eligible for its green pass, unless you have received your second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine within the last six months. Similar to Ireland’s use of the Digital Covid Certificate or Covid Pass, the green pass allows for entry to gyms, restaurants, and other venues.

Leo Varadkar moved to reassure people this evening when he was asked if such a move was on the cards for Ireland. 

“People don’t need to be worried that they’re going to wake up one morning and hear on the news that all of a sudden their Covid pass only works if they have had three doses – that’s not under consideration at all at the moment,” he said. 

Three doses

Speaking to reporters at an event at Collins Barracks today, Varadkar doubled down on his comments stating:

What I’m saying is we’ve no plans to do it at all at the moment… what I am indicating is that, as we see the science emerge, and as we learn more about the vaccines and the virus, there are a lot more people who are taking the view that this is going to be a three dose primary course vaccine, and people will need a third dose to be fully vaccinated, and we’ll move away from calling it a booster towards a third dose.
But in terms of any change to the validity of the vaccine passes, that’s not under consideration at the moment.

Varadkar said he believes more evidence will emerge that the Covid vaccine is a three dose vaccine.  

At the moment, the definition of fully vaccinated is having two doses of the vaccine or one dose in the case of the Janssen vaccine. But I think it’s fair to say that our understanding of the virus and our understanding of the vaccines is evolving all the time.

“And it may well be the case – we don’t know this yet – but it may well be the case that you need three doses to be fully vaccinated. It’s not unusual for a primary vaccination to require three doses,” he said, stating that is the case for vaccines against Hepatitis B the HPV vaccine, as well as a lot of the childhood vaccines.

“And certainly the evidence from Israel and America and other places is starting to indicate that fully vaccinated is three doses rather than two. So instead of talking about a booster, we’ll be talking about a third dose that people need to take. But we don’t know that for sure yet.

“So for now, fully vaccinated is two doses, but we will review that as we get more information,” he said.

“I think if we do move to, you know, a three dose requirement around the vaccine pass, we’d have to get to the point where they’re readily available for people and and they’re not unfortunately,” Varadkar added, saying that the government is providing between 160,000 and 250,00o third doses a week now.

“But it’s going to be well into the new year before we have everyone covered that we want to cover,” he said. 

Not being considered 

The Journal asked Taoiseach Micheál Martin over a month ago if the government would consider such change when he was announcing the roll out of the booster programme, for which he said such a measure has not even been considered. 

A number of senior sources have said that such a move to modify the Covid Pass to only allow those that have had their third dose of the vaccine to access services has not been discussed. 

One said “it’s an option, but it is not being discussed yet”, while another said “it’s not something being worked on at the moment, though other countries have adopted it”. 

Another said there is nothing off the table, but such a measure hasn’t been mentioned up to now, though they noted Boris Johnson’s comments and recent ECDC comments on the matter recently.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has previously spoken out about its concerns about the extension of the Covid Pass system, stating that it gives rise to serious human rights and equality concerns.

ICCL Executive Director Liam Herrick said it was meant to be a temporary system, stating that government should also provide for a negative test as a means for people who are not vaccinated to enter premises covered by the indoor regulations.

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