The Health Service Executive is making fresh efforts to find out why people are not coming forward for Covid-19 vaccination as part of a wider campaign to push more people to take the jab.
In an attempt to encourage more of the 360,000 people still to be fully vaccinated, the HSE said it would contact people individually who have registered but not taken their first dose or availed of their second to “understand if there are any barriers preventing them from getting the vaccine”.
The contacts are part of a campaign over the next week targeting border counties and parts of Dublin and the midlands where vaccine take-up is lower. It will also focus on younger people, pregnant women, the medically vulnerable and ethnic groups who are hesitant about the vaccine.
There are an estimated 300,000 people who have not been vaccinated and a further 60,000 people who have had their first dose but have not yet come forward for a second dose.
The efforts to encourage further vaccinations come against the backdrop of a very high vaccination uptake amounting to more than 90 per cent of the adult population.
The HSE said some people on its system may have been prevented from availing of their first or second doses because they travelled or moved abroad, died after registering or caught Covid-19 between doses or had an adverse reaction to their first dose and chose not to get the second.
State regulator, the Health Products Regulatory Authority, said that as of September 28th, it had received 15,424 reports of suspected side-effects out of 7.2 million doses then administered.
Damien McCallion, HSE national director of the Covid vaccination programme, said that the number of people who had declined the second dose because of an adverse reaction to the first was “very small”.
He said that the HSE had a protocol for referring people for assessment on whether they should take the second dose in cases where people experienced an adverse reaction to the first.
A HSE spokeswoman said that someone who experienced an adverse reaction to one vaccine could be given one of the other three vaccines available for a second dose.
Meanwhile, the European Union’s drug regulator on Monday said it had concluded in its review that Moderna’s Covid-19 booster vaccine may be given to people aged 18 years and above, at least six months after the second dose.
It is the second Covid-19 booster vaccine to be approved in the EU.
Earlier this month, the European Medicines Agency approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s booster and recommended a third dose of a shot from either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna for people with weakened immune systems. It left EU member states to decide if the wider population should receive a booster.