Online booking system for boosters opens as record number of jabs given

Online portal for vaccine appointments similar to that for booking PCR test

Members of the public can now book a booster appointment through an online portal for four Covid-19 vaccination centres.

The Health Service Executive’s (HSE) portal, similar to that for booking a PCR test, allows eligible individuals to make an appointment from Wednesday morning.

The portal opened as it emerged that a record number of vaccines were administered in one day this week, with 108,000 jabs given on Tuesday.

The vaccination centres with booking capacity are the Astro Active Centre in Enniscorthy centre in Co Wexford, Scoil Carmel in Co Limerick, and Croke Park and the National Show Centre, Swords, both in Co Dublin.

The HSE said it will be adding further clinics to the portal “over the next few days”.

The appointment system is available for anyone aged 40 and older, or for people aged 30 and over who are either pregnant, healthcare workers, those who have an underlying condition or who are living in a nursing home or a long-term healthcare facility.

The system is available for people over the age of 30 only because the appointments are for the Moderna booster jab.

The HSE has said vaccination centres will primarily use this vaccine in the coming weeks in order to use supplies that are due to expire. However, those under 30 will be administered with the Pfizer/Comirnaty vaccine.

General practitioners and participating pharmacies are also continuing to administer vaccines.

The booster vaccine programme has been bolstered following the emergence of the Omicron variant, the presence of which is particularly being felt in the 18 to 34 years age group.

Record vaccination day

Paul Reid, chief executive of the HSE, said Tuesday was a record day for the booster and vaccination programme. Some 108,000 vaccines were administered in one day, of which 103,000 were boosters.

Mr Reid said that makes up 186,000 vaccines administered in two days, with a total 1.77 million boosters and third doses done.

Immunology expert Prof Paul Moynagh has called for people who received the one-dose Janssen vaccine to be prioritised in the booster campaign, saying their level of protection is now "down to zero".

Prof Moynagh said that public health should prioritise that cohort. He said he had great sympathy for young people who had been specifically mentioned by the chief medical officer in a call for the public to reduce social contacts.

Cases among different cohorts had peaked at other times, he said. Previously it had been young school children, now it was young adults. This further strengthened the case for them to be boosted, he said.

“That is the group that requires boosters to give them some protection against infection,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, it was announced that the wait period between recovering from Covid-19 and receiving a booster vaccine has been shortened to three months.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly accepted the National Immunisation Advisory Committee's recommendation that the interval between the primary vaccine series and booster dose for those who have had a breakthrough infection be reduced. Prior to this, the interval was six months.