Plans for the general rollout of booster Covid-19 vaccinations to people in their 20s and 30s are being finalised this week.
The HSE’s head of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, Damien McCallion, said the vaccination campaign should progress on the basis of priority, and as the campaign progressed other age cohorts could be brought forward.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast on Monday, Mr McCallion said: “We anticipate over the coming weeks, and we will be finalising that plan this week for, the [booster vaccination of] other categories that are left, the 30s, the younger people – and also people in their 20s and teenagers.
“We will be finalising details of that but everything is being brought forward.”
When asked when people in their 20s and 30s who had received the one-dose Janssen vaccine would receive their booster, Mr McCallion said details to administer the booster shot to the younger cohort would be finalised this week.
“When we see gaps, we will bring people forward.”
Mr McCallion said the booster campaign was working through the different cohorts as quickly as possible, and it was hoped that everyone who wanted a booster could have it by the end of January or early February.
“As the numbers come through, if we see an opportunity we will amend the plan.”
The booster campaign will continue to expand this week as extra vaccination centres open at Richmond Barracks and the RDS in Dublin, while another centre will open in Cork city.
Mr McCallion acknowledged that some centres were under pressure with long queues, and said surges in demand at walk-in vaccination centres were expected as the booster campaign has now been expanded to a new age cohort of almost half a million people – people in their 40s.
He said that “in general it [the campaign] has worked very well”.
He advised people to check social media and local radio stations where there are regular updates on queues at vaccination centres.
The acceleration of the booster campaign is in response to the highly transmissible Omicron variant, which now accounts for approximately 52 per cent of reported new Covid-19 cases.
Booster doses are currently available to anyone aged 40 or older, those who are pregnant, healthcare workers, those aged 16 to 49 with underlying conditions, and those living in a nursing home or long-term healthcare facility.