Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Questions (1223)

John Lahart

Question:

1223. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Health his plans to review the current position of cohort 7 persons aged 16 to 64 years who have an underlying condition that puts them at high risk of severe disease and death in the current vaccination strategy; the number of persons estimated to be in this group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17578/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

On the 23rd of February 2021, 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/

The next cohort to be vaccinated (Cohort 4) are those aged 16-69 and at very high risk of severe illness and death. Vaccination of this group began in March.

It is important to emphasise that vaccination is only one part of our response to the prevention of COVID-19 infection. People who are vaccinated need to continue with all the public health measures that have been proven to reduce the risk of infection, i.e., limiting our social contacts, physical distancing, wearing a mask, hand hygiene, cough etiquette and avoiding non-essential travel until a sufficiently large proportion of the population are immune.

In relation to the number of persons in Cohort 7, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.