Q&A: What is a vaccine bonus and what does it mean for us?

Nphet is to examine the potential of additional freedoms for those who have been vaccination.
Q&A: What is a vaccine bonus and what does it mean for us?

NPHET is looking at what a "vaccine bonus" might look like, and plans to make recommendations to the Government in the coming weeks.

People who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 could face less stringent restrictions as early as next month.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is looking at what a " vaccine bonus" might look like, and plans to make recommendations to the Government in the coming weeks.

What is a vaccine bonus and why are people talking about it?

A vaccine bonus would essentially mean a slight easing of restrictions for people who have received their Covid-19 vaccination.

Have other countries introduced a vaccine bonus?

In the US, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) issued new guidance saying people are allowed to meet other vaccinated people indoors, without a mask or social distancing.

The CDC also said they do not need to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of a positive case, unless they have symptoms or live in a group setting.

These changes to restrictions would only be minor. Vaccinate people are still being told to wear masks in public and to remain socially distant where possible.

Large gatherings of people are also being advised against.

What do health experts here think about it?

Immunologist Luke O'Neill has tweeted his support for such an idea, but other health experts have not yet come on board.

The HSE’s clinical lead on infection control, Professor Martin Cormican, has cautioned people who have already been fully vaccinated about moving about in the community.

“We’re saying ‘hold on’, we’re not quite there yet where they can do more things,” he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

There was still “a fair amount” of community transmission, he warned.

"The vaccine was not perfect."

Should we expect it here?

Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer, said the situation in the US is being monitored closely. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer, said the situation in the US is being monitored closely. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Irish public health officials are "hopeful" that vaccine bonuses could be rolled out to people who are full vaccinated in the coming weeks.

Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer, said the situation in the US is being monitored closely.

Dr Glynn said: "We will be considering it further in the context of the advice we give to Government going into what will hopefully be the next easing of measures.

"We're looking specifically at the issue of nursing home visitation this week.

"I'm hopeful that over the coming weeks we'll be able to start telling people what the bonus is from vaccination - what vaccination means you can and can't do."

Is there political support?

Micheál Martin has previously cautioned against the idea of vaccine passports at a European level, and Environment Minister Eamon Ryan said he is hopeful but cautious.

"I hope there is, I hope we get that, what do they call it, vaccine bounce?" he told Newstalk.

"What they're seeing is the case numbers and particularly the acute hospital numbers going down.

"I still think we're in that place that Ronan Glynn spoke about a few weeks ago, that rather than looking back six months or looking forward six months, we should be focused on the now for the next while."

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