Q&A: What's going on with Ireland's vaccine rollout?

After a turbulent week of changes to the plan for AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines, we try to make sense of where Ireland's vaccine programme stands now
Q&A: What's going on with Ireland's vaccine rollout?

After a turbulent week of changes to the plan for AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines, we try to make sense of where Ireland's vaccine programme stands now

What's changed?

After a rollercoaster week of changes, Ireland's vaccine roll out plan has been revised again for what health chiefs say is the 25th time. Now, the AstraZeneca vaccine is limited to the over-60s and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been paused by the manufacturer, while Ireland will now receive an additional 545,000 Pfizer vaccines.

Officials provided a brief update on what is going to happen in the coming weeks, essentially issuing a revised vaccine model without Johnson & Johnson factored in. Most the additional Pfizer doses will be available from mid-summer onwards.

When will I get my vaccine?

People aged 60 to 69 will still receive the AstraZeneca vaccine in the coming weeks. 

  • The portal to book vaccination slots launched for 65-69 year olds yesterday and vaccination starts early next week; 60-64 year olds will be able to register in late April.

Very high risk people aged 16 to 59 will have vaccinations resuming next week and completed by mid-May, while the high risk group aged 18-59 may be vaccinated in parallel if medically advised. All first doses should be issued by early June to those groups.

As for the general population aged under 60, it is unlikely they will receive a vaccine until June. However, the HSE remains confident 80% of all adults will be vaccinated by the end of that month.

People aged 60 to 69 will still receive the AstraZeneca vaccine in the coming weeks. Picture: AP 
People aged 60 to 69 will still receive the AstraZeneca vaccine in the coming weeks. Picture: AP 

  • Hold on — I have already received one jab. What happens next?

People in a younger age group who already received their first dose of AstraZeneca, which mainly includes thousands of healthcare workers who started their jabs, and some people in the group 4 category who have a high risk of mortality or severe illness, will have their second jab despite the changes.

Healthcare workers have a 16-week interval between jabs, while those in group 4 have a 12-week interval between shots.

What happens if you don’t want a certain type of vaccine?

You will not be permitted to choose the vaccine you want, despite a number of vaccinations being used in Ireland.

Anyone who refuses an AstraZeneca vaccine will have to wait until the entire population is vaccinated to be offered an alternative, the Tánaiste warned yesterday.

Okay — when will the programme be finished?

The Government remains confident that their target of having 80% of the adult population receiving one dose of the vaccine by the end of June, despite the series of setbacks.

It is hoped that Johnson & Johnson will be accessed quickly by the European Medicines Agency this week and will be reinstated back into Ireland's vaccine plan. Health officials last night stressed that these have been minor bumps to the plan — and it would take something far more significant to slow down the plan to reopen the country.

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