Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (911)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

911. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Health if he has given consideration to early vaccinations for minors in circumstances in which they have a severe illness or condition and are being cared for on the basis of high dependency. [7200/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy sets out a provisional list of groups for vaccination. The Strategy was developed by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and the Department of Health, endorsed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), and approved by Government on 8 December 2020.

Vaccine allocation is a matter for the Department of Health and further information is available here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/39038-provisional-vaccine-allocation-groups/.

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is the responsibility of the HSE.

The aim of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is to ensure, over time, that vaccine will become available to vaccinate all of those for whom the vaccine is indicated. Given that there will be initially limited vaccines available, it will take some time for all to receive those vaccines and that has necessitated an allocation strategy to ensure that those most at risk of death and serious illness receive the vaccine first.

The priority is to first vaccinate and protect directly the most vulnerable amongst us, that is, those most likely to have a poor outcome if they contract the virus. The priority is to directly use vaccines to save lives and reduce serious illness, hence the focus on the over 65 year old cohort in long term residential care facilities, and healthcare workers in frontline services often caring for the most vulnerable.

The next group to be vaccinated are those aged 70 and older in the following order: 85 and older, 80-84, 75-79, and 70-74. Vaccination of this group will begin this month.

All of the groups will be covered as further vaccine supplies become available and the immunisation programme is rolled out nationally.

The evidence will be kept under review and the allocation groups may be updated, where necessary, in light of new evidence.

There is no data on the safety and efficacy of Comirnaty in children less than 16 years and of COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna or COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca in individuals less than 18 years.

Vaccination may be considered for children aged 12 years and older with serious neurodisabilities (including cerebral palsy, severe autism and Down syndrome) who spend regular time in specialised residential care settings for children with complex needs. Vaccination of other children aged 12 years and older living in these settings may also be considered.