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NIAC has advised that Covid-19 vaccines can be mixed in some cases, Donnelly says

The Minister also said NIAC has advised that booster shots be given around the same time as the flu shot.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly
Image: Leah Farrell via RollingNews.ie

HEALTH MINISTER STEPHEN Donnelly has said the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has advised that vaccines can be mixed in certain circumstances. 

This is good news for people who have received one dose of AstraZeneca and, for a variety of reasons, have a preference for an mRNA vaccine for their second jab, Donnelly said. 

The Health Minister was speaking at a Covid-19 test centre in Ardee, Co Louth this afternoon.

Donnelly said he has authorised the NIAC advice, which was passed onto him from Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan. 

The Department of Health will be working closely with the HSE and the vaccine taskforce on the plans for a booster shot roll-out, Donnelly said, adding that timelines for this are being worked on. 

The Minister said NIAC has advised that boosters be given around the same time as the flu shot. 

“That would normally happen around the last week of September, first week of October,” Donnelly said. 

“NIAC are currently looking at the details of any potential booster campaign and I expect to receive an advice from that next week from NIAC, which will allow us to proceed with more detailed planning and give people a sense of when they can expect a booster and which group,” he said.

Earlier, the head of the HSE’s Covid-19 vaccination programme said that there would be a need to run the booster programme alongside the winter flu campaign in the coming months.

Damien McCallion, the HSE’s National Lead for the Covid-19 Vaccination Programme, also confirmed that Ireland would no longer needs to administer the single-dose Janssen vaccine or the AstraZeneca jab based on advice from NIAC.

“With the threat of the Delta variants… we could [have used] those vaccines in younger age groups because of the time lag in people getting access to mRNA vaccines,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme.

“Now that we have ample mRNA vaccines, we no longer need to distribute the Janssen and AstraZeneca. As a result, we put temporary suspensions in place on those at this point.”

Earlier today, HSE chief Paul Reid confirmed that over 6.4 million vaccines have now been administered in Ireland. 

He said 82% of adults in Ireland are now fully vaccinated and 90% are partially vaccinated. 

Almost 100,000 children aged 12-15 have registered for the vaccine, Reid said. 

“The vaccines are working and give us a pathway to a brighter future,” he added. 

Moratorium request

Earlier this month, the head of the World Health Organization called for a moratorium on administering booster jabs of Covid-19 vaccines as a way to help ensure that doses are available in countries where few people have received their first dose.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made the appeal mostly to wealthier countries that have far outpaced the developing world in numbers of vaccinations.

Dr Tedros pointed to a WHO target set earlier this year to ensure that 10% of the populations in countries receive vaccines against the coronavirus.

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“Accordingly, WHO is calling for a moratorium on boosters until at least the end of September to enable at least 10% of the population of every country to be vaccinated,” he said on Wednesday.

To help take the heat out of the pandemic, WHO has been focusing on getting vaccines to older adults, health care workers and other target populations in many countries before booster campaigns are carried out.

Israel, France, Germany and many Middle Eastern countries have already started administering booster jabs.

WHO officials reiterated their call for global “solidarity” to help battle the coronavirus pandemic and appealed to wealthy countries and corporations to help.

“We need everyone’s cooperation, especially the handful of countries and companies that control the global supply of vaccines,” Dr Tedros said, appealing in particular to the influential Group of 20 large economies.

“The G20 has a vital leadership role to play as the countries that are the biggest producers, the biggest consumers and the biggest donors of Covid-19 vaccines.”

He urged the G20, which currently is chaired by Italy, to make “concrete commitments to support global vaccination targets”.

“We call on everyone with influence – Olympic athletes, investors, business leaders, faith leaders and every individual in their own family and community – to support our call for a moratorium on booster shots until at least the end of September,” Dr Tedros said.

With reporting by Emma Taggart and Press Association.

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