People aged under 30 may get vaccinated earlier in order to reduce the spread of coronavirus ahead of the wider reopening of society, under proposals currently being examined by the Department of Health.
The Irish Times reports that Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has asked officials to examine the possibility of revising the order of age cohorts scheduled to receive the vaccine so that younger people in the 18-30 age group would get their shots before those aged 30-50, once those in their 60s are vaccinated.
Some senior officials fear a spike in cases among younger people once society begins to reopen, as under-30s are more likely than other age groups to socialise together in large numbers.
“I’ve asked the department to assess the case for vaccinating younger cohorts earlier, on the basis of reducing overall transmission as quickly as possible,” Mr Donnelly told The Irish Times.
The proposal comes as Government prepares to decide on further reopening after the May bank holiday.
The Government will outline in two weeks’ time what restrictions will be removed over the month of May “on the principle of what opens stays open”, a source said. This will include non-essential retail and personal services.
On Friday, more than 50,000 people registered for Covid vaccination through the HSE portal.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin tweeted: “Hugely encouraging to see so many people now so close to their vaccine first dose.”
HSE has said it will take three weeks to give the first doses to people aged 65-69 and a further three weeks for the 60-64 age group.
Those in the 60-69 age group are being offered the AstraZeneca jab and do not have a choice of which vaccine they receive.
There was a double setback to the vaccine rollout earlier this week, with health experts recommending the AstraZeneca vaccine only be given to people over 60 in Ireland, and delays to the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine over safety concerns were announced.
But it was tempered on Wednesday by news that around 550,000 extra doses of the Pfizer jab are to be delivered in quarter two this year.