Booster vaccinations are set to be rolled out for those aged 60 to 79, the Minister for Health has announced.
It follows recommendations made by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) which have been endorsed by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan.
However, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has called on the Government to extend vaccine boosters to healthcare workers.
The Department of Health has said that the booster dose should ideally be given six months (with a minimum interval of five months) after being fully vaccinated.
If someone who is fully vaccinated has been diagnosed with Covid-19, the booster dose should be delayed for at least six months after being diagnosed with the virus.
“The roll-out of the booster programme continues to rely on using vaccines which are safe and effective, and in doing so, means that we are continuing to prioritise our at-risk loved ones,” said Health Minister Stephen Donnelly.
"I will now work with my department and the HSE to implement these recommendations as soon as possible."
Minister @DonnellyStephen has announced several updates to Ireland’s COVID-19 Vaccination Programme following recommendations made by the NIAC to the CMO. The CMO has endorsed these recommendations. https://t.co/ivD9jGjjD8— Department of Health (@roinnslainte) October 19, 2021
Mr Donnelly said that Niac will continue to examine new evidence regarding booster doses in other groups.
“It is important that we remember that vaccination, along with our continued adherence to the public health advice we are all so familiar with are the best ways we can protect ourselves, our loves ones and our country’s reopening.”
The INMO has said the Government should include healthcare workers in their plans for the rollout of boosters as a health and safety imperative.
“It is disappointing that Niac have not advised that healthcare workers receive the vaccine at this stage in the booster vaccine campaign. The Government needs to step up now and make the right decision to include healthcare workers in the next phase of the vaccination campaign,” said INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha.
“In the last month the number of Covid infections has increased amongst healthcare workers, with nurses and midwives representing the highest cohort of those infected. In the last month over 371 nurses and midwives were infected.”
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said many healthcare workers received the AstraZeneca vaccine in late January and February and that those staff should be prioritised for an mRNA vaccine booster.
“Healthcare workers are receiving vaccine boosters in Northern Ireland, England, Canada, South Africa and many parts of the USA. Why are we not following their lead? Why are we contemplating delaying protecting those on the frontline who are already working in overcrowded conditions?
“Our members have been on the frontline dealing with non-Covid and Covid patients. Our hospitals are not just full, they are overcrowded.
“This airborne infection poses a high risk of breakthrough infection to those already vaccinated, and the health services are obliged, in accordance with the Safety Health and Welfare protocol dealing with the biological hazard Covid-19, to provide all necessary protections, including vaccines, where they are available, to afford maximum protections available to those exposed to this hazard.
“This therefore is a legal requirement on the employer to provide boosters to frontline healthcare workers in our view.”