Johnson and Johnson vaccine will be rolled out immediately if approved - HSE

HSE director general Paul Reid said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is important for the State's vaccine rollout
Johnson and Johnson vaccine will be rolled out immediately if approved - HSE

James Cox

The head of the HSE says the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be rolled out immediately if it is given the green light.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) is due to make its decision in the coming days — after considering links to very rare blood clots.

HSE director general Paul Reid says the Johnson and Johnson jab is an important one for the rollout.

“It's a very good vaccine for us to target some of the vulnerable groups like homeless groups, so we await their decision [Niac], they will make their decision based on medical grounds, and we'll mobilise immediately once we get clarity on the decision,” he said.

“It's an important vaccine for us, it's over 605,000 that we would have in this quarter, so we anxiously await that decision and we are ready to mobilise once we get that decision.”

Niac decision

Government had hoped to receive the all clear for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine before the weekend but Niac said there would be no decision until early next week.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would “really advance the [vaccination] programme”.

Government sources told The Irish Times that there are fears that a negative decision on this vaccine would hit public confidence in the vaccination programme and support for Covid guidelines.

“We can’t tell people to continue with social distancing without saying there’s a chance of being vaccinated,” said a Government source. “If we’ve 40,000 [Johnson & Johnson doses] in the fridge, how can you ethically or morally justify not giving them out?”

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been described as a game changer in terms of vaccine rollout due to the fact it is a one-dose vaccine.

AstraZeneca delivery

Meanwhile, Ireland is set to receive a delivery of 165,000 doses of the AstraZeneca jab next week that had earlier been postponed until May.

The delivery has been made possible after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) allowed AstraZeneca vaccines to be manufactured at a plant in Asia.

AstraZeneca now expects to hit its European delivery target of 20 million doses this month, followed by 70 million in the second quarter.

Ireland will receive a pro rata share of about one per cent.

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