Minister for Health announces updates to Ireland’s COVID-19 Vaccination Programme

Published on: 19 November 2021

The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, has announced the extension of the COVID-19 booster vaccination programme. These updates follow recommendations made by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO). The CMO has endorsed these recommendations.

The NIAC has recommended that a booster dose of an mRNA vaccine now be offered to:

  • All those aged 16-59 years who have an underlying condition*.
  • All residents in long-term healthcare facilities, irrespective of age, many if not all of whom will have an underlying condition.
  • All those aged 50 to 59 years who have completed their primary course with any COVID-19 vaccine.

As per previous booster dose recommendations, the additional dose will be given at least five months following completion of the primary vaccination schedule.

If a person in a group for whom a booster dose is recommended has had laboratory confirmed COVID-19 infection after a completed primary vaccine course (i.e., a breakthrough infection), the booster dose should be delayed for at least six months after the COVID-19 infection was diagnosed.

Minister Donnelly said: “The NIAC continue to review all of the international evidence relating to vaccine efficacy and the impact of booster doses. NIAC have pointed out that the risk of vaccinated people aged 50-59 years requiring hospitalisation and becoming seriously ill and dying is higher than in younger age groups, therefore they are next in the order of priority for booster vaccination.

“In Ireland, we have already seen that booster doses given to those aged 80 years and older have been followed by a sharp decline in case numbers in that age group. This is very welcome news, and I encourage all of those who are eligible for a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine to come forward and receive that vaccine as soon as it is available to you.

“NIAC have strongly recommended that those who have yet to receive their primary vaccination do so as a matter of urgency given the current force of infection in the community. Our frontline health care workers are telling is that unvaccinated individuals have much higher rates of infection, hospitalisation, ICU admission and mortality than those who are fully vaccinated. Please come forward to get your vaccine as soon as possible, the HSE want to see you.

“I will now work with my Department and the HSE to implement these recommendations as soon as possible.”