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Accelerated vaccine rollout allows 18-34 age group to be jabbed two months early

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the move will better protect the population from the Delta variant wave.


The change means people aged 18 to 34 can receive their vaccines up to two months early (PA)

The change means people aged 18 to 34 can receive their vaccines up to two months early (PA)

The change means people aged 18 to 34 can receive their vaccines up to two months early (PA)

People aged 18 to 34 could receive their coronavirus vaccine up to two months early under an accelerated programme announced by the Minister for Health.

It follows updated advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) that the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines can be given to people under 40.

People aged 18 to 34 can now “opt-in” for one of those jabs, or choose to wait for an mRNA vaccine such as Pfizer or Moderna.

The opt-in system will run in parallel with the online registration portal, which will open for the 30 to 34-year-old age cohort next Friday.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly told the Dail that “a significant acceleration of the vaccine programme” will begin from Monday.

He said: “In short, the changes that we’re implementing from Monday will mean that the 18 to 34-year-old age group will have the option of being vaccinated one to two months early.

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“And that would have been really, really welcome regardless of the Delta variant and this surge, but particularly in light of the modelling we saw from Professor Nolan’s team as to what is likely to happen here through August and September in particular.

“To be able to pull forward a huge number of people from September to August, and some from August into July, is incredibly valuable.

“It’s really going to help us protecting each other and protect our population from the Delta surge that we know is coming.”

It comes after Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan warned a fourth wave of Covid-19, driven by the Delta variant, cannot be stopped, and will lead to higher levels of hospitalisation and death.

The accelerated vaccine rollout will fail to halt an exponential rise in cases in July and August, he said, but should help bring the situation under control in September.

Mr Donnelly said: “Supplies of Janssen (J&J) and AstraZeneca will be somewhat limited during July, but we expect that supplies will be able to accommodate a significant number of this age group through July.”

He said up to 210,000 J&J vaccines will be available in July.

Another 100,000 AstraZeneca jabs will be available, after the outstanding second doses have been administered.

“The company is committed to providing significantly higher amounts than that,” Mr Donnelly added.

Mr Donnelly said the estimate for people aged 25 to 29 to get their first dose, should they wait for mRNA, would be early August, with people aged 18 to 24 waiting until mid-August.

That means it would be early to mid-September before they get their second dose and are fully vaccinated.

The accelerated rollout is take to place in pharmacies and vaccination centres across the country.

Mr Donnelly said: “People will be able to seek an appointment in one of over 700 pharmacies across the country for a Janssen vaccine, subject to supply.

“The following week, the week of the 12th of July, 18 to 34-year-olds will also be able to register on the HSE portal for an appointment in a vaccine centre for an earlier vaccination.

“In the main that will be AstraZeneca, and there will be some Janssen supply available as well. The point is, they’ll then be vaccinated earlier than if they waited for the mRNA vaccine.”

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