Republic of Ireland news

‘Full steam ahead' in Republic for rollout of AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said once he takes the recommendations to Cabinet, it will be “full steam ahead” for the rollout of the two jabs
Cate McCurry, PA

Cabinet ministers in Dublin are expected to rubberstamp recommendations from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) on the use of the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines.

The decision by the NIAC to give the go-ahead for the use of the Johnson & Johnson jab, also known as the Janssen vaccine, to people over the age of 50 signals a positive turn in the government’s vaccination programme.

The expert group also relaxed its restrictions around the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to include those over the age of 50. Previously, it has been limited to the over-60s.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said once he takes the recommendations to Cabinet, it will be “full steam ahead” for the rollout of the two jabs.

The HSE was putting plans in place for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this morning so it can be distributed once Cabinet gives the green light.

Mr Donnelly said: “We received a recommendation late last night from NIAC to do with AstraZeneca, Janssen, intervals and various other aspects of the vaccines.

“It is all good news. I was talking with the HSE late last night and the taskforce early this morning.

“Obviously all of this has to be discussed by Cabinet and agreed by Cabinet, but I will be making the recommendations to Cabinet and, if they accept it, then it’s full steam ahead.

“Obviously we want to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we can, so plans are being put in place right now by the HSE, by the taskforce, so that if Cabinet does approve it, we can move immediately.”

Mr Donnelly said that while the recommendations are as broadly reported, there are some additional details.

“If Cabinet accepts that then it means we can move ahead and means all vaccines will be available for the cohorts we are doing now – 60 and above – then we will want to move to 50 to 59 as quickly as possible,” he added.

“All vaccines will be available for them as well.

“As we have seen, what NIAC is doing they are assessing information as it becomes available here and around the world.

“It may be the case that they make further recommendations on widening the availability of some or all of these vaccines.

“For now it is good news. It means we can keep going with the vaccine programme as quickly as possible.

“It keeps us on target and makes the conversation about getting out of this pandemic a better and more positive conversation.

“I was talking to the HSE last night in anticipation of any advice that might arise so the Department of Health, the taskforce, the HSE are all working very hard now to make sure that, if Cabinet do agree with these recommendations, that can be put in place straight away.

“We have Janssen in the country, we have a lot of AstraZeneca and we want to keep moving through the cohorts.”

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