Republic of Ireland news

People who refuse AstraZeneca vaccine will go to back of queue in Republic - Leo Varadkar

He said if a person refuses to have the AstraZeneca jab, they will have to “wait until the end” of the rollout to be given a vaccine.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that people will not be allowed to choose which vaccine they receive in the Republic of Ireland.

It comes after a recommendation from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee that the AstraZeneca vaccine is only given to people over the age of 60.

Mr Varadkar said the advice should not undermine confidence in the safety of the vaccine.

He said: “The best option is the vaccine that’s offered to you. All the vaccines are effective and they’re safe for the age groups they’re indicated for.”

He said if a person refuses to have the AstraZeneca jab, they will have to “wait until the end” of the rollout to be given a vaccine.

“It’s not possible to know when the end would be, but it wouldn’t be June or July, it would be later than that” he added.

The HSE launched a new online vaccines portal where people can register for the inoculations on Thursday. It is currently open to people aged between 65 and 69.

The Government has said it is examining extending the intervals between the two doses of AstraZeneca to speed up the vaccine programme, as has been done in the UK.

Studies have shown people are still given high levels of immunity, over 80%, from a single dose.

But Mr Varadkar said on Thursday that people who have already received their first dose will still get their second as planned.

“We’re not going to change it for them,” he said. “They’ve even been given the date at this stage, and they’re also the people who are generally the highest risk, so it makes sense to fully protect them.”

He said that if longer intervals between doses are introduced, it will only be for younger people who do not have any medical vulnerabilities.

The Tánaiste also said that 80% of the population will have had their first dose of Covid vaccine, or have been offered it, by the end of June.

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Republic of Ireland news