The Irish Times view on the vaccine priority list: a striking anomaly

People with the most severe forms of CF are designated by the HSE as being at “very high-risk” yet they are listed in 7th place on the 15-tier vaccination list

The extension of the vaccination timeline makes it all the more important to ensure that the State has its priority list right. Photograph: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg

The extension of the vaccination timeline makes it all the more important to ensure that the State has its priority list right. Photograph: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg

 

The Government still believes it is “likely” that everyone in the Republic will be vaccinated by September, but that is now an “aspiration” rather than a promise.

The rhetorical softening is understandable given reductions in supply from two of the drug companies on whose vaccines the State has placed a big bet. In the case of Pfizer/BioNTech, the cut to supply, which has affected deliveries in recent weeks, will be temporary and will allow for a ramping up of production in a few weeks’ time. The reduction in deliveries to EU states from AstraZeneca, which has set off an acrimonious row with the European Commission, will have a longer-lasting impact. The latter, easy-to-store vaccine, which is expected to be approved by the European Medicines Agency on Friday, is the centrepiece of Ireland’s vaccination plan.

Difficulties such as these were to be expected, given the speed and scale of the global Covid-19 vaccination effort. Further hiccups will occur; it would not be inconceivable for new strains to emerge that would render certain vaccines less effective, or for significant further production or distribution bottlenecks to arise.

But the extension of the vaccination timeline makes it all the more important to ensure that the State has its priority list right. In broad terms, it does. Frontline healthcare workers and care home residents are first in line, and the inoculation of those groups is continuing apace. They are to be followed by the over-70s, who will be offered vaccines in a staggered process starting with the over-85s.

However, the Government should retain a certain flexibility in order to take special cases into account. One of the most obvious anomalies is that of under-70s who have cystic fibrosis (CF). People with the most severe forms of CF, including those waiting for a transplant or those who have had one, are designated by the HSE as being at “very high-risk” yet they are listed in 7th place on the 15-tier vaccination list. The numbers involved are relatively small. There is a strong case for moving them up the list.

News Digests

Stay on top of the latest newsSIGN UP HERE
The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.