Tuesday, 14 December 2021
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
Yes, but it also protects us against the worst the virus can do in terms of hospitalisation and ICU. It protects people who are more at risk of being severely impacted by the virus. That has been the case from the beginning of this pandemic. Older age cohorts and people with underlying conditions are most impacted by the virus, unfortunately. That said, we are hoping that we will shortly be in a position in relation to the 40- to 49-year-olds to bring that date forward. I take the Deputy's point in terms of flexibilities with general practitioners and pharmacies. These are issues that can form part of discussions that are ongoing. It is critical that we get those older age cohorts done because when you look at the data - I looked at them before lunchtime - they are very clear. For those who get the booster, hospitalisations are reduced significantly. That is clear in the over-80s, the over-70s and, indeed, now the over-65s. I take the Deputy's point and her positive perspective in terms of flexibility for those on the primary care side in terms of their interface with patients.
On the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it is my understanding that it has been raised with the Chief Medical Officer and NIAC in terms of the Johnson & Johnson cohort. I, too, am concerned about that cohort because of the waning efficacy of that first and only dose they received. That is an issue that NIAC has stated it will keep under constant review.