People aged 60 and older now eligible for second Covid-19 booster

Rollout of second booster vaccines extends to 55- to 59-year-olds next week

People aged 60 or older have been encouraged to come forward and book appointments to receive a second Covid-19 booster vaccine, to help prevent serious illness if they contract the virus.

From Monday those who are aged 60 or older are eligible to receive a second booster shot, as are women who are at least 16 weeks pregnant. From August 22nd the rollout of the second booster, or for most a fourth vaccine dose, will extend to those aged 55 and older.

People aged 50 or older will be able to receive the additional vaccination from August 29th. Those with a weak immune system that puts them at higher risk from Covid-19 are currently eligible to receive the extra dose, once they are aged 12 or above.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has said there must be a four month gap between a first and second booster vaccination. People who contracted Covid-19 must also wait four months before they can receive the second booster shot.

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The HSE is continuing to run vaccination clinics with some General Practitioners and pharmacists also offering the vaccine.

The Irish Pharmaceutical Society has called on people eligible for extra boosters to book in advance if they plan to get the additional shot at pharmacies.

David Twomey, a spokesman for the pharmacy representative group, said the vaccines helped keep people who contracted the virus from requiring hospitalisation.

The booster shots were available in pharmacies around the country, such as 76 pharmacies in Cork and 159 in Dublin, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland. Generally people would need an appointment, but some pharmacies would be able to accommodate “different scenarios,” he said.

Last month the Government approved the extended rollout to further cohorts for the second booster, following a recommendation from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac), an expert group that advises on vaccination policy.

Niac also recommended healthcare workers should be offered second booster shots, with the HSE to outline when healthcare staff can avail of the extra vaccine shots in the coming weeks.

European health agencies previously came out against offering the under-60s and healthcare workers second boosters, stating there was “no clear evidence” they offered additional protection compared to the initial booster doses.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times

Vivienne Clarke

Vivienne Clarke is a media monitor and reporter