Dáil debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Covid-19: New Measures: Statements


5:07 pm

Photo of Brendan HowlinBrendan Howlin (Wexford, Labour)

I thank the Minister and the Minister of State for their presentations, which contain very useful information. In the time I have, I want to make a brief contribution on the issue of vaccination, in particular on the booster jab. We have to underscore again and again that all vaccines are amazingly effective, particularly at preventing serious disease and death.

I want to advocate for a vulnerable group who I believe, through nobody's fault, have been short-changed in the programme, and that is the 60 to 69-year-old cohort. By definition, they were from the start vulnerable. They were given the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is very effective, and I have all the statistics here, but demonstrably less effective than the mRNA vaccines, that is, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. To add to the disadvantage, there was a three-month gap between the first and second doses - in fact, a 15-week gap initially - whereas people getting the other vaccines got them within a month and were able to be fully vaccinated before others.

I can give the Minister the data from The Lancet but I do not have the time. However, all vaccines are now waning in effectiveness. My appeal to the Minister is very straightforward and clear. Do not delay a second in ensuring that this group, who are already contacting my office and all of our offices because they feel aggrieved, are vaccinated. Open the mass vaccination centres and get this group vaccinated before Christmas. Do not rely on the six months and start as soon as the five-month threshold is passed. Will the Minister give us the guarantee that all resources will be put into effect and that he will open the mass vaccination centres and get this group fully vaccinated this side of Christmas? If we can do that, we can make amends to a group who I think feel they got the short end of the stick last year.


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