Thursday, 15 July 2021

Questions (343)

Alan Kelly

Question:

343. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health if students who are going on Erasmus or study abroad programmes for the upcoming academic year will be provided with a Covid-19 vaccine ahead of the 2021-2022 academic year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32047/21]

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

On the 30th of March, the Government approved a further update to the COVID-19 Vaccination Allocation Strategy. Based on clinical, scientific and ethical frameworks produced by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee and my Department, following the vaccination of those most at risk, future groups will be vaccinated by age, in cohorts of 10 years (i.e., 64-55; 54-45, etc.).

Further details are available here: www.gov.ie/en/press-release/93f8f-minister-donnelly-announces-update-to-irelands-vaccination-prioritisation-list

I am pleased to inform you that the vaccine rollout at participating pharmacies has now expanded to encompass an opt-in model for the vaccination of younger age groups. The amendment to the programme follows updated advice from the NIAC regarding the use of adenoviral vaccines (AstraZeneca and Janssen) in those aged under 50 years of age.

Younger age groups who do not wish to receive an adenoviral vaccine will be offered an mRNA vaccination in due course. The HSE will put in place consent mechanisms to ensure that anyone under 35 years of age who chooses to avail of an earlier vaccination is adequately informed of the extremely rare side-effects associated with the adenoviral vector vaccines. People in this age group will also be advised about the probable timing of the availability of mRNA vaccine for their age group when considering this accelerated option.

The administration of the single-dose Janssen vaccine to those aged 18-34 began the week commencing 5 July at participating pharmacies across the country. The rollout is being implemented by the HSE in conjunction with the Irish Pharmacy Union and will see approximately 850 pharmacies participating nationwide.