I propose to take Questions Nos. 575 and 741 together.
The current high level of COVID-19 infection and the dominance of the significantly more transmissible Delta variant poses a very substantial threat, particularly to those who are not fully protected through vaccination. In addition, the impact of the new Omicron variant is still unknown. Public health advice remains that those who are not fully vaccinated should avoid congregated indoor settings for their own and others safety.
The National Public Health Emergency Team gave some consideration to the issues arising for those people that cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccine for medical reasons as part of its discussions on the 18th October 2021 on the continuing response to COVID-19 and the extension of Covid Pass arrangements. The matter is being given further consideration.
The Deputies may wish to be aware that on 15 July, NIAC made a recommendation, which was endorsed by the Chief Medical Officer and accepted by the Minister for Health that while the preference was for homologous vaccination regimens (using the same vaccine as part of a two dose regime) that selective use of heterologous vaccination schedules (two different vaccines used as part of two dose regime) should be permitted where a second vaccine dose of a homologous regimen is contraindicated, irrespective of whether the first dose was an mRNA or adenoviral vector vaccine. NIAC in conjunction with the RCPI and the Irish Association of Allergy and Immunology have prepared a guide to aid vaccinators and other healthcare workers on how to advise allergic individuals in respect of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, this guide is available here: rcpi-live-cdn.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/FAQs-about-COVID19-Vaccines-and-Allergies_12August2021.pdf.