Vaccinating young people earlier 'makes a lot of sense' says immunologist

Vaccinating young people earlier 'makes a lot of sense' says immunologist

Immunologist Paul Moynagh has said a suggestion that young people should be vaccinated ahead of older age groups "makes a lot of sense" scientifically, but that from a political perspective it could have been handled in a more discrete manner.

This comes after the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly questioned whether the vaccine rollout should be altered once again to allow for younger people to be vaccinated sooner in an effort to limit transmission.

However, following kickback from a number of Ministers, Mr Donnelly confirmed on Sunday deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said there was no evidence to support such a change, and therefore no plans or proposals were being put in place.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Professor Moynagh said proposals to lengthen the period between first and second vaccine doses could be of benefit, as it would mean more people were vaccinated and had a level of protection.

He said the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines could have the same properties as AstraZeneca, meaning they could be effective after an extended space between doses, adding that vaccinating as many people as possible was a good move.

The possibility of extending the interval between doses is currently being considered by health officials, Mr Donnelly has confirmed, with recommendations expected to be received from Dr Glynn and the vaccine taskforce "in the coming days".

Such an extension to the dosage interval has been adopted in the UK where an emphasis was placed on administering as many first doses as possible in order to give a larger percentage of people some protection against the virus.

"The data we are getting back from the vaccination programme in Ireland and from the world is that even the first dose of the two-dose vaccine is showing absolutely incredible positive success in terms of reduction of cases and hospitalisation," Mr Donnelly said.

Mr Donnelly said once recommendations are received from health officials they can be brought to the Government for consideration.

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