I propose to take Questions Nos. 555 to 557, inclusive, together.
The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) is an independent voluntary committee, comprised of expert members, set up by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) at the request of the Department of Health and hosted by the RCPI.
The NIAC makes recommendations on immunisation policy to my Department. Its recommendations are based on the prevalence of the relevant disease in Ireland and international best practice in relation to immunisation. It continues to revise these recommendations to allow for the introduction of new vaccines in Ireland and to keep abreast of changes in the patterns of disease.
The NIAC has played an integral role during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing robust, evidenced based advice to my Department which has informed and supported decision making in relation to the use of COVID-19 vaccines in Ireland.
In order to sustain a systematic, evidence-informed approach to the generation of advice by the NIAC in relation to vaccines, immunisation, and related health matters, my Department has been examining improved structural options for the committee.
It is important that we have an effective, fit for purpose, transparent and accountable immunisation advisory function in Ireland and my Department is currently engaged in preliminary work in relation to the restructuring of the NIAC in order to facilitate its continuing work.