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Monday 11 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Leon Farrell via HSE chief Paul Reid

Most AZ second doses will be administered within next five weeks, Reid confirms

The HSE chief said it is planned that the second doses of AstraZeneca will be completed by 19 July.

LAST UPDATE | Jun 15th 2021, 10:54 PM

AROUND 450,000 PEOPLE who are awaiting a second dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine will receive it within the next five weeks, the HSE chief executive has confirmed. 

Paul Reid this evening confirmed that the wait time for a second AstraZeneca dose is being gradually reduced from 12 weeks to eight following advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC).

“We started the process this week of giving people the second dose of AstraZeneca, that we will work through over the next five weeks,” Reid said, speaking to Virgin Media News. 

Reid said it is planned that the second doses of AstraZeneca will be completed by 19 July. 

“So, 450,000 people over the course of the next five weeks will receive their second dose of AstraZeneca,” he said. 

“Overall, it’s really important that people do come forward for their second dose vaccine. You don’t have your fullest protection until you have your second dose vaccine,” Reid added. 

The HSE chief said the rollout of the second dose of AstraZeneca will not delay the vaccination rollout for those in younger age cohorts. 

Reid also confirmed people who do not wish to receive the second dose of AstraZeneca will not be offered an mRNA vaccine in its place. 

“We’re still working through the strong recommendations from medical advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee for people to come forward for their second dose of AstraZeneca,” he said. 

Reid’s comments come after government ministers confirmed earlier today that there are no current plans to allow a first dose of one Covid-19 vaccine and a second dose of another to be administered.

Some opposition TDs had suggested that the rollout could be sped up, particularly for the 60 to 69 age cohort, by allowing doses to be mixed, but the Taoiseach believes giving “mixed signals” could disrupt the programme.

Speaking at Leaders’ Questions this afternoon, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that “what we’ve learned is that once you start changing, once you start giving out mixed signals, it can disrupt the vaccination programme”.

“This vaccine programme has worked on the basis that people have received vaccines as those vaccines were available,” Martin said.

“We need to keep going, it’s working well, let’s not disrupt the model that is working well right now.”

It had been suggested that offering over 60s who received the AstraZeneca vaccine a choice of another vaccine for their second dose could help strengthen protection against the Delta variant as well as speed up the process.

A total supply of around 4.1 million doses should be in the country by the end of quarter two.

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris also said that mixing doses is not on the agenda.

He said that public health advice should be followed and that it does not recommend mixing vaccines.

Around 58% of people have received a first dose of a vaccine and nearly 27% have had a second dose, the Taoiseach said.

The online vaccine registration portal opened to people in their 60s in April.

People in their 60s were offered the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is approved for use by the European Medicines Agency and NIAC, but not advised for younger people.

Sinn Féin health spokesperson David Cullinane was among those to suggest that over 60s should be offered a choice of a different second dose it if was supported by international evidence.

“Our priority must be to protect this cohort of over 60s, especially as they must wait a long time for their second dose,” Cullinane said in a statement.

He said the reduction in the AstraZeneca interval was welcome, but that it should be “expedited and not phased”.

“The Minister for Health must ensure that NIAC examine if the option of a second dose of another vaccine is safe and effective,” he said.

“We need to take every measure we can to ensure that our vaccination rollout is both fair and effective.”

With reporting by Hayley Halpin

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