Booster shots and annual vaccine renewals are likely to be part of Ireland’s long-term battle against Covid-19, according to the chief executive of the HSE.
Speaking to Shannonside radio’s Joe Finnegan show, Paul Reid said the health service has begun working on plans for the possible rollout of booster shots should they be needed.
Mr Reid said vaccine renewals may be needed to combat future outbreaks, as well as new variants of the disease, although he added that medical data on the long-term efficacy of Covid vaccines is incomplete.
“I think it’s two assumptions we probably can make,” he said about the future of the vaccine rollout.
“One is that there probably will need to be a vaccination programme into the future and then we need to think about how we plan for that and how we do it – whether that’s boosters or whether it’s an annual renewal of the vaccine.
“It’s still not fully medically determined just yet, but the likely evidence will be [that] there will be a need for a booster or an annual renewal.”
Delta variant plans
Mr Reid also highlighted the effectiveness of vaccines in combating the Delta variant of Covid-19 in those who have received two doses.
Vaccines and an expanded track and trace programme are the key elements in plans to tackle the more contagious variant of the virus nationally, he said.
“Vaccines do give a stronger protection. The Pfizer, Moderna one would give a 96 [per cent] protection and the AstraZeneca give a 92 per cent protection against hospitalisation against that Delta variant,” he said.
“We have what we call... an enhanced tracing process in place, so if we detect a variant [of concern]... we do increased contact tracing — so in some cases where we might not deem a person as being a close contact, if it’s a case of a variant, we would deem a lot more people close contacts.”