Written answers

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Department of Health

Vaccination Programme

Photo of Steven MatthewsSteven Matthews (Wicklow, Green Party)
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2065. To ask the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the case of students who will be going on Erasmus as a mandatory aspect of their college course in August 2021 given that as per the current projections many in this situation will not have been reached by the vaccination programme; if there are plans in place to deal with this cohort in advance of their scheduled departure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36485/21]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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The COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy sets out a provisional list of groups for vaccination. The Strategy was developed by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and my Department, endorsed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), and approved by Government on 8 December 2020.

On the 23rd of February, I announced an update to Ireland’s COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy. In comprising the initial Vaccine Allocation Strategy, the NIAC listed several conditions associated with increased risk of severe disease and death. In the intervening period, national and international evidence has become available which has enabled a more detailed analysis of underlying conditions that may increase the risk of developing severe disease or death.

The NIAC has now been able to more comprehensively identify those medical conditions and to distinguish between those which place a person at very high or high risk of severe disease if they contract the virus. Medical conditions and the magnitude of the risk they pose will continue to be monitored and periodically reviewed.

On the 30th of March, the Government approved a further update to the COVID-19 Vaccination Allocation Strategy. Based on clinical, scientific and ethical frameworks produced by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee and my Department, following the vaccination of those most at risk, future groups will be vaccinated by age, in cohorts of 10 years (i.e., 64-55; 54-45, etc.).

The move to an age-based model better supports the programme objectives by:

- protecting those at highest risk of severe disease first, which benefits everyone most;

- facilitating planning and execution of the programme across the entire country;

- improving transparency and fairness.

Further details are available here:

www.gov.ie/en/press-release/93f8f-minister-donnelly-announces-update-to-irelands-vaccination-prioritisation-list/

Please note the latest group who can register online to get a COVID-19 vaccine are people aged 18 to 24.

If over 24, people can still register if they have not already.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Leader of the Opposition; Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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2066. To ask the Minister for Health if the use of heterologous vaccination for persons aged 60 years and over who have only received one vaccine (details supplied) to date is being considered in view of the threat posed by an increase in the Delta variant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36486/21]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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Ireland’s COVID-19 vaccination programme strategy is to distribute all available vaccines as quickly as is operationally possible, prioritising those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19. The programme is based on the principles of safety, effectiveness and fairness, with the objective of reducing severe illness, hospitalisations and deaths from COVID-19 infection.

The immunisation programme in Ireland is based on the advice of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC). The Committee's recommendations are based on the prevalence of the relevant disease in Ireland and international best practices in relation to immunisation. It makes recommendations on vaccination policy to my Department.

The NIAC review all data relating to COVID-19 vaccines on a rolling basis. Following the recommendation for use of vaccines against COVID-19 by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and authorisation for use by the European Commission, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee develops guidance for their use in Ireland which is contained in the Immunisation Guidelines for Ireland. These guidelines are continuously updated and include guidance on all new vaccines as they are approved for use in Ireland. The current Guidelines state: There are currently four COVID-19 Vaccines authorised for use in Ireland. The vaccines are not interchangeable.

For vaccines that have a two-dose schedule, the same vaccine should be used for both doses.

You can read the guidelines at:

www.hse.ie/eng/health/immunisation/hcpinfo/guidelines/covid19.pdf

There is insufficient evidence to recommend a change from the authorised two-dose Vaxzevria® schedule or to support giving an mRNA vaccine instead of the second dose of Vaxzevria®.

There is a need for further evidence on the safety and effectiveness of mixed (heterologous) vaccine schedules. Further information is expected in the coming months which may warrant an update of these recommendations.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Leader of the Opposition; Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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2067. To ask the Minister for Health when vaccine registration will open for persons aged 30 to 35 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36487/21]

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Leader of the Opposition; Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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2068. To ask the Minister for Health when vaccine registration will open for persons aged 20 to 29 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36488/21]

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Leader of the Opposition; Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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2069. To ask the Minister for Health when vaccine registration will open for persons aged 18 to 20 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36489/21]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 2067 to 2069, inclusive, together.

The HSE is currently offering everyone who registers online an mRNA vaccine - either the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine - when it is available. People waiting for their first vaccination appointment also have a choice to opt-in or out of getting the AstraZeneca vaccine if it is available earlier than an mRNA vaccine. If opting for this vaccine, a person may be vaccinated sooner, depending on the availability of supply.

Alternatively, an individual can get a COVID-19 vaccine at a local pharmacy if not already vaccinated and are aged:

- 50 or over

-18 to 34

Availability of pharmacy vaccines will depend on supply. Many pharmacies are offering people in these age groups the Janssen vaccine.

The latest group who can register online to get a COVID-19 vaccine are people aged 18 to 24.

If over 24, people can still register if they haven't already.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Leader of the Opposition; Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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2070. To ask the Minister for Health his plans for persons aged 18 to 49 to avail of an adenoviral vector vaccine subject to informed consent, further to the recent NIAC and NPHET recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36490/21]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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The HSE is currently offering everyone who registers online an mRNA vaccine - either the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine - when it is available. People waiting for their first vaccination appointment also have a choice to opt-in or out of getting the AstraZeneca vaccine if it is available earlier than an mRNA vaccine. If opting for this vaccine, a person may be vaccinated sooner, depending on the availability of supply.

Alternatively, an individual can get a COVID-19 vaccine at a local pharmacy if not already vaccinated and are aged:

- 50 or over

- 18 to 34

Availability of pharmacy vaccines will depend on supply. Many pharmacies are offering people in these age groups the Janssen vaccine.

The latest group who can register online to get a COVID-19 vaccine are people aged 18 to 24.

If over 24, people can still register if they haven't already.

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