Covid-19: Booster shots to be offered to older people in early autumn amid reinfection concerns

Parents urged to ignore ‘misinformation’ as vaccines for over-12s could begin next week

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly at Government Buildings on Tuesday: ‘There is a lot of nonsense out there, a lot of scaremongering.’ Photograph: Damien Eagers/PA Wire

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly at Government Buildings on Tuesday: ‘There is a lot of nonsense out there, a lot of scaremongering.’ Photograph: Damien Eagers/PA Wire

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The Covid-19 vaccination programme is to be extended, with boosters offered to older and vulnerable people and vaccines to children, amid Government concerns about the potential for reinfection and more cases among young people.

Pharmacists may offer a coronavirus booster shot alongside the annual flu jab to older people as early as September or October under the latest plans. Nursing home residents, the over-80s and frontline healthcare workers would first be offered the booster shots in the autumn and winter months.

People aged 16 and 17 were on Tuesday invited to register for their vaccines, and some have already been offered appointments before the end of this week.

The Cabinet also agreed to extend Covid-19 inoculations to children aged between 12 and 15, who could start receiving appointments as early as next week. The move has further bolstered the belief in Government that all schools will be in a position to fully reopen in September.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said it would ultimately be for parents to decide whether or not their child should receive the vaccine.

“What I would encourage parents to do is to ignore social media misinformation. There is a lot of nonsense out there, a lot of scaremongering out there,” he said.

Total doses distributed to Ireland Total doses administered in Ireland
8,557,330 7,130,149

Encourage

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said that following advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee, he would “encourage parents and guardians of those aged 12-15 years of age to register them for a vaccination as soon as the opportunity arises”.

A further 1,120 cases of Covid-19 were reported in the State on Tuesday, with 142 people being treated in hospital for the disease, including 27 in intensive care.

To date, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been approved by the European Medicines Agency for 12 to 15-year-olds. During clinical trials, the estimate for efficacy of both was reported as 100 per cent in this age groups.

The HSE will spend several days this week making arrangements to accommodate the younger cohort. This will involve allowing parents to register their child on the vaccine portal and accompany them to a vaccination centre.

The Cabinet was told on Tuesday that nearly one in five cases reported in the last three weeks were among teenagers.

The Government has also agreed to opt into a European advance purchase agreement for the French Valneva vaccine, which contains inactivated parts of Covid-19 and could be more effective against variants of concern. There was also agreement to opt into any available doses of the Novavax vaccine.

Walk-in vaccinations

Separately, a number of vaccination centres will this week allow people to walk in for vaccinations without an appointment.

More than 5.5 million Covid-19 doses have been administered to date, with more than 69 per cent of adults fully vaccinated and 83 per cent partially so.

The number of guests permitted at a wedding will rise from 50 to 100 from August 5th and Government sources said there would be no requirement for guests to be vaccinated. Up to 50 people will also be allowed to attend baptisms, although large celebrations afterwards will not be permitted.

There will be no further changes to Covid-19 restrictions in August, Government figures cautioned, warning that the prevalence of the Delta variant and the impact of reopening of indoor hospitality on case numbers would have to be closely monitored.

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