HSE chief executive Paul Reid has said he was unaware of any proposal to change the vaccination priority list and stressed that the health service was continuing to work on the list that focuses on older cohorts and medically vulnerable groups.
According to The Irish Times, senior HSE officials have stressed that prioritising Covid vaccinations for people based on age remains the best approach if the aim of the rollout is “harm reduction”.
“That is where the highest risk is,” said Mr Reid. “That is the plan we are working through right now.”
He said that if the Government changed tack, then the HSE would change its plans accordingly but added that “all the medical and scientific advice… is to administer it based on age”.
Both Mr Reid and HSE chief clinical officer Colin Reid said the programme was continuing to be rolled out as planned with older people first in line followed by younger age groups.
They were speaking in response to comments made by the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly on Friday night when he said consideration was being given to changing the focus of the vaccine priority list to allow people aged 18-30 to be inoculated ahead older cohorts.
“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.
Some senior Government 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.
It comes as more than 814,000 people in the Republic have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to the HSE, after a daily record of 33,386 doses were administered on Thursday.
Some 341,000 people have had both doses of a vaccine.
Mr Reid said the number of people falling ill and dying with Covid-19 has been “radically reduced” as the vaccine programme ramps up.
In a tweet posted on Saturday morning, he also said a further 3,000 people over the age of 70 will start the vaccination process today, while the portal for registering to get the jab has now been widened to include people who are aged 67.