The vaccine programme has rolled out in excess of 1.4 million doses administered as today government ministers signed off on prescribed changes to the vaccine rollout plan.
The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC), has made a series of recommendations to the C.M.O. who has endorsed them in advice to the government.
The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has accepted this advice, as follows….
All EMA (European Medicines Agency) authorised COVID-19 vaccines, including Janssen and -AstraZeneca, can be offered to those aged 50 years and older, including to individuals at very high or high risk of severe COVID-19 disease.
–Those aged under 50 years, including those at very high or high risk of severe COVID-19 disease should receive an mRNA vaccine – Pfizer or Moderna. The exception to this is where a two-dose mRNA vaccine schedule may not be feasible, in which case consideration may be given to Janssen for those aged 18-49 years.
–Those of any age with immunocompromising conditions should receive Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccine if feasible and timely.
–Those aged 50 years and older who have already received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and those under 50 years at very high or high risk of severe COVID-19 disease, should receive their second dose 12 weeks after receipt of their first dose.
–Those under 50 years of age who do not have a very high or high risk of severe COVID-19 disease should have their second dose 16 weeks after the first dose, to allow for assessment of emerging evidence regarding the risk and benefits of the second dose of this vaccine.
-There should be no change to the recommended interval of four weeks between the two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines.
-All pregnant women should be offered Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccine between 14-36 weeks, following medical advice.
Previous advice from NIAC recommended that COVID-19 vaccines should be offered to pregnant women at high risk of severe disease and healthcare workers (due to their increased exposure to infection).
There is good evidence that those with prior COVID-19 infection who subsequently received a single dose of an mRNA vaccine have a similar antibody response to those who have never had COVID-19 and who had received two doses of an mRNA vaccine.
Further, a second dose of an mRNA vaccine in those who have previously had a COVID-19 infection does not appear to increase the power of this immune response. There is some evidence that those aged older than 50 years have a less robust immune response than those under 50 years old.
On that basis, NIAC have recommended that, for those individuals who have had a laboratory confirmed COVID-19 infection within the previous 6 months:
-Those aged 50 years and older should receive a full COVID-19 vaccine schedule.
-Those aged under 50 years and immunocompromised should receive a full COVID-19 vaccine schedule.
-Those aged under 50 years and who are not immunocompromised and who have had a COVID-19 infection in the previous 6 months should receive a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine, at which point they should be considered fully vaccinated.
-All EMA authorised COVID-19 vaccines, including Janssen and AstraZeneca, can be offered to those aged 50 years and older, including to individuals at very high or high risk of severe COVID-19 disease.