Of the 450,000 people waiting for a second dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, the "vast majority" will receive their second dose earlier than planned due to fears of the risk posed by the Delta variant.
The chair of the High-Level Task Force on Covid-19 Vaccination, Prof Brian MacCraith said many will receive their second dose ahead of the original 12-week schedule, however, the HSE was unable to suggest how many would receive their remaining jab within an eight-week timeframe.
According to The Irish Times, the goal is to have completed the distribution of AstraZeneca second doses by about July 19th.
"Over 450,000 individuals will get offered AstraZeneca dose two in the coming five weeks, the vast majority ahead of their original schedule," Prof MacCraith said.
"This second dose offers 92 per cent protection against hospitalisation due to the Delta variant," he added.
Delta is now the dominant strain in England where earlier this week UK prime minister Boris Johnson delayed the final stage in the easing of their restrictions from June 21st to July 19th in order to administer more second dose vaccines to vulnerable cohorts to offer them better protection against the variant.
Data from Public Health England suggests protection against hospitalisation after one dose is 71 per cent with AstraZeneca, rising to 94 per cent for Pfizer/BioNTech.
Approximately 90,000 second doses of AstraZeneca are due to be administered this week, with a further 366,000 dose expected to be delivered this month.
National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) chair, Prof Karina Butler warned people against "holding off" on receiving their second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the hope they may receive a different type of vaccine.
Prof Butler said no decision regarding the mixing of vaccines would be made by Niac until results from studies are published later this month, and therefore people should not delay in receiving their second dose.