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Covid-19 vaccine rollout at pharmacies expanded to include younger age groups

An update to the Covid-19 vaccination programme as a result of the threat posed by the Delta variant has been announced.

This update to the programme comes following the updated advice from the national immunisation advisory committee (NIAC) regarding the possible use of adenoviral vector vaccine for those aged under 50 years of age. NIAC has restated that it is still preferable that those aged 18-49 be given mRNA vaccines. However, in light of the increasing prevalence of the Delta variant and the risks associated with it, the NIAC have noted that there is an urgency to complete vaccination of as many people as possible and, as such, have recommended that those aged 18-49 years can opt for an adenoviral vector vaccine (AstraZeneca and Janssen) in order to gain earlier protection. Younger age-groups who do not wish to receive an adenoviral vaccine will be offered an mRNA vaccination in due course.

Consent mechanisms will be put in place by the HSE to ensure that anyone under 35 years of age wishing to avail of earlier access to vaccination through the administration of an AstraZeneca or Janssen vaccine is appropriately informed of the rare side-effects associated with the adenoviral vector vaccines. People in this group will also be advised about the probable timing of the availability of mRNA vaccine for their age group when considering this accelerated option.

People in Ireland aged 18 – 34 years who wish to seek accelerated vaccination in this way can seek access to a Janssen Covid-19 vaccine in their local participating pharmacy from Monday 5th July, subject to supplies. As a response to rising concerns with regard to the Delta variant, this recommendation is being implemented in partnership between the HSE and the Irish Pharmacy Union, with the availability of the Janssen Covid-19 vaccine for those aged 18-34 in over 700 pharmacies nationwide.

Furthermore, those aged 18-34 opting for an accelerated vaccination will also be able to register from Monday 12 July for an appointment during July for a Janssen or AstraZeneca vaccine through Vaccination Centres.

Registration for an mRNA vaccine for those aged 30-34 will begin on Friday 9 July, starting with those aged 34 on that day, 33-year-olds on Saturday 10 July, and so on.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said: “It’s been a tough week for us all, especially with the greater awareness of the Delta variant and the possible impact of this strain on our communities. But it’s been a particularly tough week for the younger people of this country, who have yet to be offered a vaccine.

“I asked the CMO and NIAC to look at the possibility of offering all vaccine types, including AstraZeneca and Janssen, to our younger population and today we are announcing how this approach will be implemented. Younger people who wish to opt for earlier vaccination can be offered a Janssen vaccine in their local participating pharmacy subject to their informed consent.

“Covid-19 has been particularly hard for younger people in Ireland. While their own health has been threatened to a much lesser degree, they have carried a lot of responsibility in protecting vulnerable members of their homes and communities. I hope that today’s announcement and the acceleration of our Vaccination Programme will help to bring hope to these young people.”

A list of participating pharmacies will be available on HSE.ie and people are asked to contact their local participating pharmacy from Monday to book an appointment for the Janssen Covid-19 vaccine.

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