Over 60s should be fully vaccinated to protect from Delta variant before travel resumes - Kelly

Number of Covid-19 patients in hospital falls to 39 while 294 new cases reported in the State

Labour leader Alan Kelly has called for the vaccination programme to be expedited amid concern over the more transmissible variant of the virus.  Photograph:Gareth Chaney/Collins

Labour leader Alan Kelly has called for the vaccination programme to be expedited amid concern over the more transmissible variant of the virus. Photograph:Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

People in their 60s should be fully vaccinated before restrictions on international travel are due to be eased next month as part of the fight against the Delta variant of Covid-19, Labour leader Alan Kelly has said.

His party has called for the vaccination programme to be expedited amid concern over the more transmissible variant of the virus.

The AstraZeneca vaccine has been used to inoculate people aged between 50 to 70. The two-dose vaccine is only 33 per cent effective against the Delta variant after the first jab. After two doses, AstraZeneca’s protection against symptomatic disease from the Delta variant rises to 60 per cent.

While the gap between doses AstraZeneca has been cut from 12 to eight weeks there is concern that younger people will be fully protected by other vaccines before some people in their 60s.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said at the weekend that about 450,000 people are due to get their second AstraZeneca vaccine before the end of July as the government reduces the interval between doses.

Mr Kelly said today that “if we’re going to head off this new variant” people in their 60s should be “fully vaccinated” before international travel is due to start again in mid-July.

The Government currently advises against non-essential foreign travel but has signaled an easing of this from July 19th provided the public health situation allows for it at the time.

At a press conference Mr Kelly’s Labour colleague Brendan Howlin said that people in their 60s are defined by the Government as a “vulnerable cohort” and pointed to the reduced protection against the Delta variant.

He said: “We need to ensure they are protected as soon as possible.

Mr Howlin added: “We need to have clear numbers presented on the delivery of the Astra Zeneca and speed up as far as practicable the vaccination programme...

“We’ve seen from the hospital numbers and particularly the ICU numbers the vaccine is the most potent weapon we have in tackling not only the delta variant but any other variants that arise.”

Meanwhile the Department of Health reported 294 new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday. There are 39 coronavirus patients in the State’s hospitals including 13 in intensive care.