Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Questions (736, 737, 744, 746, 750, 755, 769, 800, 814, 836, 868)

Joe Carey

Question:

736. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Health if he will request the chair of the national immunisation advisory committee, the chair of the high-level task force on Covid-19, the Chief Clinical Officer of the HSE and the relevant parties to prioritise those who are very high risk and extremely vulnerable for vaccination by adding transplant recipients, immunosuppressed persons and the very high risk to group 1 as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11083/21]

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Bríd Smith

Question:

737. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Health if he will take steps to reprioritise those who are very high risk and extremely vulnerable, including transplant recipients and immunosuppressed persons, to be included in group 1 of the Covid-19 vaccination schedule; his views on whether those in the category have a high mortality rate if they contract Covid-19 and as a result have been reprioritised in the UK and are high on the Northern Ireland vaccination schedule; if he will provide immediate clarification to such groups that they will be included in group 1 of the vaccination roll-out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11087/21]

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Claire Kerrane

Question:

744. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Health if the current Covid-19 vaccination allocation groupings will be reassessed to prioritise those who have serious medical concerns; if a reconfiguration of the vaccination roll-out will consider those who have medical conditions that require them to undergo treatments or urgent procedures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11109/21]

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Seán Sherlock

Question:

746. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Health if he will address a matter raised in correspondence (details supplied) to prioritise very high risk and extremely vulnerable persons for vaccination immediately by adding transplant recipients and those that are immunosuppressed and the very high risk to group one. [11111/21]

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Seán Canney

Question:

750. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Health if he will prioritise those who are very high risk and extremely vulnerable for vaccination by adding transplant recipients, immunosuppressed persons and very high risk persons to group 1 of the Covid-19 vaccination priority list as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11118/21]

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Neasa Hourigan

Question:

755. Deputy Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for Health if he will consider prioritising those who are immunosuppressed, those who are transplant recipients and those who are classified as high risk and vulnerable on the vaccine priority list. [11126/21]

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Michael Moynihan

Question:

769. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Health if the vaccine allocation strategy will be reviewed to give consideration to prioritising immunosuppressed persons who are extremely vulnerable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11200/21]

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Michael Ring

Question:

800. Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health the changes he plans to make to a strategy (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11332/21]

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Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

814. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to higher Covid-19 risk rates among immunosuppressed patients; if the vaccination allocation plan has been reviewed in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11359/21]

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Alan Farrell

Question:

836. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Health the consideration being given to the reprioritisation of immunosuppressed persons in the Covid-19 vaccination programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11451/21]

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Holly Cairns

Question:

868. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health the reason persons on immunosuppressive drugs were not included in the revised group 5 of the Covid-19 vaccination programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11598/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 736, 737, 744, 746, 750, 755, 769, 800, 814, 836 and 868 together.

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 my Department, endorsed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), and approved by Government on 8 December 2020.

Vaccine allocation is a matter for my Department 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 began in February.

On the 23rd of February, I announced an update to Ireland’s COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy.

In comprising the initial Vaccine Allocation Strategy, the NIAC listed several conditions associated with increased risk of severe disease and death. In the intervening period, national and international evidence has become available which has enabled a more detailed analysis of underlying conditions that may increase the risk of developing severe disease or death.

The NIAC has now been able to more comprehensively identify those medical conditions and to distinguish between those which place a person at very high or high risk of severe disease if they contract the virus. Medical conditions and the magnitude of the risk they pose will continue to be monitored and periodically reviewed.

The NIAC continues to monitor data around this disease and indeed emerging data on effectiveness of vaccines on a rolling basis.

Further details are available at the following link:

https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/b44b2-minister-donnelly-announces-update-to-vaccine-allocation-strategy/