Some 49-year-olds turned away from J&J vaccine appointments after ‘error’

Niac has cleared the way in principle for use of one-shot jab in under 50s

A healthcare worker prepares a syringe with a vial of the J&J/Janssen Covid-19 vaccine. Photograph: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty

A number of 49-year-olds who turned up at Croke Park for Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) Covid-19 vaccine appointments on Saturday were turned away due to being under the age of 50, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has confirmed.

A HSE spokeswoman said the National Immunisation Advisory Committe (Niac) guidelines stipulate these vaccines are “not recommended for this age group [under 50] at present”.

“When this error was identified we immediately made every effort to contact those affected by phone and text to advise them not to attend their appointment today… We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused,” she added.

Niac issued new advice for the Janssen and AstraZeneca vaccines last Monday, clearing the way in principle for their use among people aged 40 to 49, so long as they give clear consent.


These vaccines were to be offered if no mRNA jabs were available and people were permitted to reject the vaccines and wait for an mRNA shot if preferred. Previously the Committee had advised these vaccines would be used only in people aged 50 and over.

Cabra resident Ultan Monahan said he arrived at the north Dublin mass vaccination centre on Saturday morning excited to receive the Janssen jab but was informed at the door that there had been a “clerical error”.

Mr Monahan had received a text message on Wednesday confirming his appointment for the Janssen vaccine on Saturday.

“I was really looking forward to getting the Johnson & Johnson because it was just one shot,” he told the Irish Times.

At the entrance to the centre, he said he met another 49-year-old expecting to receive the Janssen vaccine who was being turned away from the centre due to being under 50. A HSE official said they should have received cancellations for their appointments, Mr Monahan said.

Mr Monahan said he had been “hopping around the place” with anticipation of receiving the one-shot vaccine. “I had my Galway jersey on as I always do when I go to Croker,” he said, adding he is still keen to get “any shot at all after a long 14 months”.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said on Twitter that she received her Covid-19 vaccination at the Croke Park centre on Saturday. The TD for the Dublin Central constituency, who is 52 years old, thanked those working at the centre and the HSE, saying : “Jab done at last!”

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is High Court Reporter with The Irish Times