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Government to consider plan to raise position of people with underlying conditions on vaccine priority list

Moving people with underlying conditions to a higher position on the vaccine priority list would be “fair and reasonable”, the Taoiseach has said.

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PEOPLE WITH UNDERLYING health conditions may see their wait for a vaccine reduced as a potential plan to move them higher on the priority list is considered by ministers.

It is understood that the government is working on a plan this week to reconsider the position of people with underlying health conditions in the vaccination schedule.

Raising people with underlying conditions to a higher position on the vaccine priority list would be “fair and reasonable”, the Taoiseach has said.

In an interview with TheJournal.ie yesterday, Taoiseach Michéal Martin said that the government wants to look at whether the group could be moved up the list.

“I think that is fair and reasonable,” he said.

Martin said that the government wants to deliver the vaccine, which reduces the severity of illness and can prevent deaths of vulnerable people, to that group “as quickly as we possibly can”.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee, which gives advice to the chief medical officer on vaccine prioritisation, has detailed that the main underlying conditions linked to an increased risk of hospitalisation with Covid-19 are chronic respiratory disease, chronic heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic neurological disease, obesity, and chronic kidney disease.

A decision on changing the government’s priority list would be subject to Cabinet approval.

In a statement, Sinn Féin health spokesperson David Cullinane said that this “has been a deeply anxious period and people have been understandably highly concerned by the lack of priority given to them in the vaccine rollout so far”.

“Tens of thousands of people with serious underlying health conditions, such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease, have been effectively unable to leave their homes for the last year as they are shielding to protect themselves from this virus,” Cullinane said.

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The first two priority groups on the list – frontline healthcare workers and residents in long-term care facilities – have been nearly fully vaccinated

Vaccines for people aged 85 and over began on Monday, with almost 1,000 people vaccinated by GPs at The Helix theatre in Dublin today.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said that “what we’re seeing here is the light at the end of the tunnel”.

“It’s a great day we’re going to see a lot more of this when we move into April and onwards. We’re looking at over a million doses of vaccines coming into the country per month,” he said.

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