Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD, has confirmed a shorter interval between doses for the Vaxzevria® (AstraZeneca) vaccine.
This follows updated recommendations from the National Immunisation Asvisory Committee (NIAC), which have been endorsed by the Chief Medical Officer.
The Minister met with the Chief Executive of the HSE and the Chair of the High-Level Task Force on the COVID-19 Vaccination programme regarding the latest NIAC advice.
Minister Donnelly said: “The reduction in the length of the interval between doses of this vaccine will benefit in excess of 400,000 people who are waiting on a second dose and who will now get the protection of being fully vaccinated earlier.
“This will be phased in – the coming fortnight will see those who are due their vaccine as part of a 12 week schedule, receive their second dose of vaccine. We will then implement a graduated reduction so the interval will reduce to 11, 10, 9 and then 8 weeks”
Further detailed planning on this aspect of the COVID-19 vaccination programme will take place over the weekend.
Exact timing will also be contingent on supplies from Vaxzevria®.
“Right now we only have confirmed volumes for the next two weeks. I’ve spoken with the company, while there has also been contact with them from the Taoiseach and the taskforce in recent days to emphasise the urgency and importance of contracted supplies arriving as agreed” Minister Donnelly added.
NIAC made the following recommendations in their latest advice:
NIAC has concluded that those of any age (without any previous COVID infection), who have received their first dose of Vaxzevria® should receive their second dose 8-12 weeks later.
For those aged under 50 years of age who are immunocompetent and who had laboratory confirmed COVID-19 infection in the nine months preceding their first dose of Vaxzevria®, a second dose of vaccine is not required, and they can be considered fully protected 15 days after their first dose of vaccine.