Thursday, 16 December 2021
Department of Health
496. To ask the Minister for Health if he will issue an order for FFP2-standard face masks to be made available free for all passengers using public transport while Covid-19 infection rates are at high levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62354/21]
At its meeting on 2 December, the NPHET considered the issue of the use of respirator masks by those who are at higher risk from COVID-19.
The NPHET endorsed advice from HIQA that at present the evidence does not support a population-level recommendation for the use of respirator masks (FFP2 or equivalent, or respirator masks with higher filtration efficacy) by those who are classed at higher risk from COVID-19. The NPHET noted that that this does not preclude their use at an individual level.
In its letter, the NPHET reiterated the need for continued clear communications on the appropriate use of face masks. The NPHET’s letter of 2 December is available online: www.assets.gov.ie/206406/230d346f-fd02-49fd-b672-5ec48eb7ec6c.pdf
497. To ask the Minister for Health if discussions are expected to give clarity to persons who ,due to medical reasons, are unable to have the vaccination and therefore do not have a Covid-19 certificate to gain access to various places; if a negative antigen test will give them right of access; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62425/21]
The current high level of COVID-19 infection and the dominance of the significantly more transmissible Delta variant poses a very substantial threat, particularly to those who are not protected through vaccination. In addition, the impact of the new Omicron variant is still unknown. Public health advice remains that those who are not fully vaccinated should avoid congregated indoor settings for their own and others safety.
The National Public Health Emergency Team gave some consideration to the issues arising for those people that cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine for medical reasons as part of its discussions on the 18th October 2021 on the continuing response to COVID-19 and the extension of Covid Pass arrangements. The matter is being given further consideration.
The Deputy may wish to be aware that on 15 July, NIAC made a recommendation, which was endorsed by the Chief Medical Officer and accepted by the Minister for Health that while the preference was for homologous vaccination regimens (using the same vaccine as part of a two dose regime) that selective use of heterologous vaccination schedules (two different vaccines used as part of two dose regime) should be permitted where a second vaccine dose of a homologous regimen is contraindicated, irrespective of whether the first dose was an mRNA or adenoviral vector vaccine. NIAC in conjunction with the RCPI and the Irish Association of Allergy and Immunology have prepared a guide to aid vaccinators and other healthcare workers on how to advise allergic individuals in respect of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, this guide is available here: www.rcpi-live-cdn.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/FAQs-about-COVID19-Vaccines-and-Allergies_12August2021.pdf .