The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, has accepted new recommendations in relation to the use of adapted bivalent vaccines in Ireland’s COVID-19 booster vaccination programme.
The recommendations were made by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) to the interim Chief Medical Officer (iCMO) Professor Breda Smyth who has endorsed these recommendations.
NIAC has recommended authorised adapted bivalent vaccines for all those aged 12 years and older who are eligible for a booster vaccination. Adapted bivalent COVID-19 vaccine boosters include components of the original virus strain and the Omicron variant.
First booster doses continue to be offered to all people aged 12 and older and 5- to 11-year-olds with a weak immune system who have yet to receive one.
A second booster is being offered to people:
- Aged 50 to 64
- 12 or older with a condition that puts you at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19 – for example, diabetes, asthma or heart disease
- Pregnant (from 16 weeks)
- Healthcare workers
- 12 or older living in a long-term care facility
If you have not already had your second booster, you can still get one if you are aged:
- 65 or older
- 12 or older with a weak immune system
If you are in these groups and had your second booster over 4 months ago, you can find out more on www.hse.ie, by contacting HSELive or speaking to participating GPs and pharmacies.
Minister Donnelly said: “Development of these vaccines represents an important new step in our approach to combatting COVID-19 and they will play a significant role in Ireland’s Autumn/Winter Vaccination Campaign.
“Officials in my Department have secured access to adapted bivalent vaccines through participation (in partnership with the European Commission and other Member States), in the EU’s COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy. Doses of bivalent adapted vaccines have already been delivered to Ireland thanks to provisions of Purchase Agreements negotiated by the Commission as part of the EU’s COVID Strategy.”
Prof Smyth said: “Innovations in science continue to inform our management of COVID-19 and the recommendation made by NIAC is a welcome update that will offer continued protection to those most vulnerable to severe illness from SARS-CoV-2 infection.
“The best vaccine for you is the one you are offered at the time you are offered it, and I want to reassure people that all COVID-19 vaccines, existing mRNA vaccines and adapted bivalent vaccines, are remarkably effective and offer good protection against the worst impacts of COVID-19. It is really important that anyone yet to receive any course of COVID-19 vaccine does so as soon as possible and that anyone for whom a booster dose is recommended makes arrangements to receive that booster.”
The HSE will include adapted bivalent booster vaccines in the Vaccination Progamme from early October. The HSE also plans to commence its influenza vaccine programme at this time. From October, anyone who is eligible for both a flu vaccine and a COVID-19 booster vaccine can receive them at the same time from participating GPs and pharmacies, so long as they are at least four months since their last COVID-19 vaccine or infection.