The vaccine roll out plan is facing another set back after the HSE decided not to use the AstraZeneca jab for people over the age of 70. It comes just days before 35,000 doses were due to be sent out to GPs to vaccinate people over the age of 85.
Last week, the European Medicines Agency gave the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine the green light for use in all age groups over the age of 18 because it is a completely safe drug.
However, the European medicines watchdog warned that there is insufficient evidence to declare the vaccine effective in people over the age of 65 but claimed there is no reason it shouldn’t work for older people.
The HSE will now only use the highly effective mRNA vaccines of Moderna and Pfizer to vaccinate Ireland’s elderly – a move that will cause logistical headaches for the health service as these vaccines must be kept in subarctic freezing temperatures.
The HSE are currently finishing the first two priority groups in the vaccine roll out programme which includes frontline healthcare workers and nursing home residents.
However, it may take much longer to vaccinate priority group three due to pressure on Pfizer and Moderna supplies and the logistic issues with delivering this vaccine to GPs.
Lower down priority groups such as non-frontline healthcare workers and key workers in the vaccination programme could now be moved up the queue and given the AstraZeneca jab.