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NIAC to meet to discuss advice on Johnson & Johnson vaccine as hospital numbers remain stable

The single-shot vaccine is seen as crucial to Ireland’s rollout.

Image: PA Images

THE NATIONAL IMMUNISATION Advisory Council (NIAC) is to meet today to consider what advice it will issue about the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Ireland.

It follows an announcement by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Tuesday that the “overall benefits” of the J&J vaccine outweighs any potential risks, following reports of rare blood clotting events.

The EMA previously approved the vaccine for use in the EU and NIAC is set to consider its new advice in terms of how Johnson & Johnson will be used here.

The single-shot vaccine is seen as crucial to Ireland’s rollout, with 600,000 doses of the jab expected to be delivered before the end of June

Minister for Environment Eamon Ryan told RTÉ radio this morning that NIAC’s decision would be key to achieving the government’s stated target of vaccinating four in five adults by the end of June.

“I’m hopeful that there’ll be similar flexibility [to that seen with the AstraZeneca vaccine] with regard to Johnson & Johnson,” he said.

“If we can get it in, for example 50s and over… because it’s a single-shot dose, that has a huge effect in meeting those targets and protecting our people.

“The reason we would hopefully be able to do that is that it will actually save lives. It would lead to a much faster deployment of the vaccines, reduce risk of transmission and reduce illness because of that.”

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It comes as latest figures from the HSE show there were 172 people being treated for Covid-19 in Irish hospitals last night, the same number as 24 hours previously.

The figure had increased slightly to 182 yesterday morning, but fell over the course of Wednesday.

There has also been a slight increase in the number of patients in critical care with Covid-19.

Figures show that 47 people were in ICU receiving treatment for the virus at 6.30pm last night, of whom 29 patients were receiving ventilated care.

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