Business of Joint Committee

We will commence with draft minutes and correspondence. The meeting last week was of the select committee and this followed two private meetings on Tuesday, 1 December and Tuesday, 8 December. I take it the minutes of our last joint committee meeting of 18 November, the actions relating to the items of correspondence received and dealt with at the two private meetings, and the draft spring programme are agreed. Is that agreed? Agreed. These decisions will now be recorded in the minutes of today's meeting.

We will move to any other business. Do members wish to raise any other matters? I remind members that we have three opening statements today so our time management will have to be tight.

I have one quick point relating to next week's meeting regarding vaccines. I know we will have the chairperson of the expert panel in, and that is important. However, I believe we also need to hear from the national immunisation advisory committee, NIAC, because that committee is responsible for the provisional vaccination allocation groups that were published. I wish to put that committee on notice of one issue to which it might be able to respond. Some lobbies have come in. There is reference to prioritisation for those aged 18 to 64 years with medical conditions which put them at high risk of severe disease. However, there are children in the same circumstances and they are at the bottom of the priority list. There may be a rationale behind that, but at the same time it raises a question. If a person is between 18 and 64 years and has a medical condition that puts the person at high risk of severe disease, that is provided for, but what about children? It is important that NIAC representatives are invited. Maybe we can get clarification on whether they were invited.

Clerk to the Committee

Yes, the HSE was invited.

I imagine the head of the NIAC is the relevant person.

I wish to add one point. There is an issue about teenagers. As far as I know, none of the vaccines have been tested on children under 12 years and it will be some time before that is possible. I wish to give notice about clarification for breastfeeding mothers. There is no reference at all to that category. Perhaps the NIAC could clarify that for us too.

If members have particular concerns before the meeting next week, we can forward these to the HSE. We have only a two-hour window today. I appreciate the comments.