Johnson & Johnson recommendation due from Niac next week
Minister says EU starting legal action against AstraZeneca over contractual issues
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has confirmed the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) will not issue a recommendation on the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine until next week.
During his weekly Dáil update on the Covid-19 vaccine programme rollout, Mr Donnelly said that Niac is currently considering the European Medicines Agency ’s recent position on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and he expects “a recommendation early next week from Niac on that”.
The committee members are involved in several international meetings relating to the jab and Niac will wait until after those meetings to issue its findings.
Mr Donnelly pointed to the EMA advice that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks of unusual blood-clotting events as a very rare side effect.
Niac advised last week the vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca should not be administered to anyone under the age of 60 because of links to very rare blood-clotting events.
Mr Donnelly said the European Commission has started a legal action around AstraZeneca’s “complete failure” to meet its delivery contractual commitments.
He told the Dáil: “With regard to AstraZeneca a legal case has been initiated by the Commission earlier this week including Ireland as one of the parties to that legal case specifically around AstraZeneca’s complete failure to meet its delivery contractual agreements for April, May and June.”
Meanwhile, the vaccine portal will open on Friday morning for bookings from people aged between 60 and 64, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has confirmed.
However, he said the HSE is asking people aged 64 to register first on Friday and the HSE will then work down through those aged 63 to 60.
Currently, the portal is open for registrations from people in the 65 to 69 age bracket.
The rollout has been continuing, with around 20,000 doses administered on Tuesday, according to HSE figures. Some 6,000 of these were second doses. As of Tuesday a total of 1,240,965 vaccine doses had been given.
Earlier on Thursday, Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan said he was hopeful a recommendation will give the green light for use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in people in their 50s.
Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland radio programme, he said allowing its use in people aged 50 and above would have a huge effect in terms of meeting the Government’s vaccination targets and would save lives.
He said the letter Niac had sent to Government on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine had not ruled out the use of that type of vaccine in younger cohorts.
Last week the committee recommended that the AstraZeneca vaccine should not be administered to people under the age of 60 due to possible links to similar very rare blood-clotting events.