26 Sept 2022

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly approves use of adapted bivalent vaccines in Covid booster programme

Donnelly approves use of adapted bivalent vaccines in Covid booster programme

New recommendations on the use of adapted bivalent vaccines in Ireland's Covid-19 booster vaccination programme have been accepted by the Minister for Health. 

Minister Stephen Donnelly has accepted the recommendations made by the National Immunisation Advisory Commmittee (NIAC) for the use of adapted bivalent vaccines - Covid-19 vaccine boosters which include components of the original virus strain and the Omicron variant - in all those aged 12 years and older who are eligible for a booster. 

Speaking on the news, 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-19 Strategy." 

Professor Smyth also commented and 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, with the influenza vaccine programme also planned to commence 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 4 months since their last Covid-19 vaccine or infection.

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, and 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, or 12 or older with a weak immune system. 

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