The HSE’s chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry has said the challenge for the health service now will be putting the National Immunisation Advisory Committee's (Niac) advice on booster vaccines into action.
The “waning” immunity of the first round of vaccines for vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and immunocompromised, will require booster jabs, he told Newstalk Breakfast.
The booster vaccines will be mRNA brands, such as Pfizer and Moderna, even if the original doses were AstraZeneca, he explained.
Research had indicated that the mixing of vaccines was effective and would have a good response, Dr Henry added.
Among the first groups will be over-80s in the community and over-65s in residential settings.
Safe & effective
The booster campaign will have to be safe and effective and the purpose of it will be to build on the gains achieved from the vaccine programme, he added.
There was a lot to be optimistic about now, said Dr Henry as daily case numbers appeared to be stabilising and there were good signs about the rates of hospitalisation, those requiring ICU treatment and the mortality rate.
“The vaccination programme has protected us from the worst of the virus. We’re playing a rule set that has protected us.”
Dr Henry said the policy on children having to stay away from school when they were identified as close contacts would be reviewed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) in the coming weeks but would remain in place in the meantime.
When asked about plans in the UK for mandatory vaccination for frontline workers, Dr Henry said the approach of the HSE continued to be “persuasive” which had been more effective to date. However, any frontline staff who had not been vaccinated would continue to be redeployed.