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Donnelly says he would like to see healthcare workers get the green light for the booster jab

The booster shots for the over 60s will begin ‘imminently’, said the minister.

Image: Sasko Lazarov

HEALTH MINISTER STEPHEN DONNELLY has said he would like to see the green light given on boosters for healthcare workers.

Donnelly said there is “a strong case” for giving healthcare workers boosters, stating that he has written to the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) in relation to the issue.

“I think we have been very well served by NIAC and I think one of the reasons why we have one the highest participation rates in vaccines in Ireland is because people, rightly, trust the expert advice and they know that we are following that expert advice,” he said.

Labour’s Alan Kelly today urged the Taoiseach to give a timeline to frontline workers as to when such a decision would be made.

Speaking in the Dáil, the Taoiseach said when it comes to vaccines, the government takes clinical advice and expert advice.

Health experts are satisfied that there are benefits to giving a booster vaccine to the over 60s, he said, adding that the issue in relation to health care workers will be kept under examination.

“That’s where that lies at the moment I do understand the concerns that are out there in respect of healthcare workers,” he said, acknowledging that the government has concerns too.

“I acknowledge that the experts are those who’ve tried and trusted experience in the administration of vaccines, and it’s an issue that will be kept under review,” he added.

It was confirmed yesterday that vaccine boosters are going to be offered to people over the age of 60.

The health minister confirmed today that the administration of the booster to the 800,000 6–79 group will begin “imminently”.

The HSE is working out a “detailed plan” on the booster programme, with the minister stating that while he could not give an exact start date, he wants it to begin “sooner rather than later”.

Yesterday, Labour’s Ged Nash asked if the over 60s will have to wait a number of months to get their booster shot.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has said the booster doses “may be considered at least 6 months after the second dose for people aged 18 years and older”.

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“At national level, public health bodies may issue official recommendations on the use of booster doses, taking into account emerging effectiveness data and the limited safety data. The risk of inflammatory heart conditions or other very rare side effects after a booster is not known and is being carefully monitored. As for all medicines, EMA will continue to look at all data on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine,” it said.

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