Booster vaccination campaign for over-60s to begin at start of November

Covid-19 booster shots to be given to more than 800,000 aged between 60 and 80

Those aged between 60 and 70 are likely to get boosters in mass vaccination centres

Those aged between 60 and 70 are likely to get boosters in mass vaccination centres

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The Health Service Executive will begin administering booster vaccines to more than 800,000 people aged between 60 and 80 at the start of November, health chiefs expect.

Most over-70s are likely to be given boosters in their local GP surgery, while those aged between 60 and 70 are likely to get them in mass vaccination centres.

Officials are currently working on the details of the rollout of the boosters, which was approved by the Cabinet on Tuesday. Officials say that with two million doses of the Pfizer vaccine in stock, supply in not an issue.

However, some people in this age cohort will have to wait for the vaccine, as six months will have to have elapsed since they received their second, regular dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

Up until now, boosters have been provided to three groups only: over-80s, people in residential care aged over 65 and those who may be immunocompromised. So far, more than 100,000 boosters have been administered.

The HSE says it plans to complete the administration of boosters to residents of nursing home and other residential centres by the end of next week.

It says it will take about 10 days for the latest Government decision on boosters to be operationalised. More than 182,000 people are aged 80 and over, and 345,000 are in the 70-79 age group. A further 479,000 people are aged between 60 and 69.

Healthcare workers

No decision has been reached yet by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) on a booster jab for healthcare workers. Taoiseach Micheál Martin said on Tuesday that the issue is being kept under review by Niac but the Government considers it an urgent matter. There is significant impatience among some Ministers and senior officials at the pace of Niac’s work.

Mr Martin told the Dáil that he would like to see healthcare workers receiving boosters, but that we must take “expert advice of Niac”.

The Taoiseach was speaking after the announcement on Tuesday that the next phase of reopening would go ahead but with some restrictions maintained into the new year as concerns grow over the rising number of Covid-19 cases. There were 2,399 new cases reported by the Department of Health on Tuesday, the highest daily total since January.

Reopening plan

Under the revised reopening plan, normal trading hours in pubs, restaurants and wider hospitality will resume, and nightclubs are set to reopen from Friday for the first time since the start of the pandemic, though with some restrictions still in place.

Indoor and outdoor events will be permitted to take place without any restrictions on capacity. Religious services and weddings will proceed on a similar footing, while the return to workplaces will continue on a “phased and cautious” basis.

New rules will be developed for the operation of nightclubs which are likely to “involve Covid-19 passes, contact-tracing data collection and wearing of face masks except when eating, drinking and dancing”, the Government said in a statement.

Amid some confusion about how nightclubs would operate, Mr Martin said last night the Government would engage with the hospitality industry on Wednesday.

“We want to engage with people genuinely and understand their concerns and work it out. We understand people have made plans and we appreciate that,” he told RTÉ.

Questioned by journalists at a press conference in Government Buildings following Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Mr Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar accepted that there would be anomalies and contradictions in the weeks ahead, with different rules for different hospitality sectors.

Mr Varadkar also said the National Public Health Emergency Team had warned the Government that the recent surge in cases would not peak until the end of this month, while hospitalisations and ICU admissions would peak later in November or early December.

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