Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the government was “concerned” about the well-being of frontline healthcare workers and that the state immunization agency would keep the issue of recalls under review for this group.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (Niac) this week approved the extension of COVID-19 boosters to people over 60 years of age.
“As far as healthcare workers are concerned, this is an issue they said they would continue to review and re-examine,” Martin said on Wednesday morning.
“It’s a matter of concern.”
“We are worried about the healthcare workers who are on the front lines. And there is growing evidence of a potentially hospital acquired infection due to the higher prevalence of the virus in the general community. When this happens, it also tends to manifest itself in healthcare facilities, which puts staff in more difficult situations. “
Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said he was “surprised” at Niac’s lack of decision on the matter.
“It surprises me that we do not yet have a positive recommendation for a booster program for health workers, but I also know that we have been very well served by our vaccination program and in general by taking advice. medical and clinical in relation to things …
“Niac is looking at the problem and will keep the problem under review,” he told The Pat Kenny Show.
Mr Martin welcomed the decision to offer recalls to people over 60 and said there was a clear feeling in the EU that a large-scale recall campaign would be part of the fight against Covid-19.
“In terms of a recall campaign, I think it’s good that Niac made a recommendation, something that I applaud when it comes to the over 60s. I know that at the European Union level, and As the EMA noted, people over 18 may be boosted six months after their second dose is given.
“It is clear that the European Union, when it has entered into a pre-purchase agreement for the next two years, covering hundreds of millions of vaccines to be purchased through Pfizer, clearly sees the future in terms of application. from a booster vaccine to a larger population as we move through the pandemic. They see it as part of the medium term.
The Taoiseach said the success of the Irish vaccination program was in part due to the feeling that there is professional clinical expertise behind the campaign.
“I think the National Advisory Committee on Immunization has given consistent advice from the start regarding immunization. We have reached 93% (of people) fully immunized, which is a tremendous achievement globally. And I think we have to accept that it shows that people have confidence in the immunization program. One of the reasons people have confidence in the immunization program is that there is professional clinical expertise underlying decisions about vaccine administration.
“And I think we obviously have to keep that structure and that edifice and that’s why it’s important that we defer to Niac in terms of advice.”
The Health Service Executive will begin giving booster shots to more than 800,000 people aged 60 to 80 in early November.
Most people over 70 are likely to receive boosters at their local GP office, while those aged 60 to 70 are likely to receive them at mass vaccination centers.
Officials are currently working on the details of the boosters’ deployment, which was approved by Cabinet on Tuesday. Officials say that with two million doses of Pfizer vaccine in stock, supply is not an issue.
However, some people in this age cohort will have to wait for the vaccine, as six months will have passed since they received their second regular dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.