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Vaccinations of people at 'very high risk' with specific health conditions to begin in early March

Some people with specific health conditions will start to be vaccinated from 8 March under the new priority schedule.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Rollingnews.ie

PEOPLE WITH SPECIFIC medical conditions that put them at a very high Covid-19 risk are due to start receiving vaccinations in early March. 

Under the government’s reprioritised vaccine schedule, those aged 16-69 with a “very high-risk” medical condition were moved up from the seventh to the fourth cohort group.

Within that group, the first people to receive the vaccine are to be those who have specific conditions, such as cancer, a chronic kidney disease, or those who are immuno-compromised.

Chair of the vaccine taskforce Professor Brian MacCraith has said that vaccines for people in that category are due to begin from 8 March.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Saturday with Katie Hannon, MacCraith said that cohort four are “those aged 16-69 with a medical condition that puts them at a very high risk of severe disease and death”.

“They in general will be vaccinated directly after those aged 70 and above. However, there is an exception for a cohort of those with specific medical conditions, for which there is a recommendation that they receive the MRNA vaccine and that’s those with cancer, chronic kidney diasease, and those who are immunocompromised,” MacCraith said.

The HSE is working on plans to identify the best locations, referrals and processes for vaccinating vulnerable people.

“There are some challenges in terms of Ireland not having an national disease register, for example, but [the HSE is] identifying the various cohorts and finding the best ways of engaging with them and finding the most suitable vaccination location for them,” MacCraith said.

“For some of them it will be the hospital and it might be a referral through the consultants, for others it might be their GP, for others it might be vaccination centres.”

Details of the reprioritised schedule were released by the government earlier this week.

Up to 23 February, 373,280 doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered in Ireland.

238,841 people have received the first dose and a further 134,439 have received their second dose.

The rollout of the vaccine has been extended to people aged 85 and over, who are currently being vaccinated, with some delays experienced by health professionals in administering the vaccines.

MacCraith said that the HSE is “aware that for a number of GP practices there have been operational issues regarding ordering and delivery, particularly in rural areas”.

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“This should not have happened, and I think everyone associated with the programme is very disappointed that this has happened. The GPs themselves are frustrated and of course, significantly, those over-85s that have been waiting for their vaccines,” he said.

“The HSE have been working intensively with the IMO and the ICGP to put things to right and set up a new GP order support team to try to make sure all the logistical issues that were associated with this new model [are addressed].”

Two vaccine deliveries from AstraZeneca that were due to be in use shortly have been curtailed by the company on “very late notice”.

One of the deliveries was scheduled for yesterday and a second was due to arrive next week.

“For this week and next week, there’s going to be a combined reduction of about 25,000 vaccinations,” MacCraith said.

“However, this is not a reduction in deliveries but a rebalancing by AstraZeneca.”

“From next weekend into the following week, we will be able to recover completely what has been lost.”

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