Unvaccinated staff working in nursing homes will be offered excess doses left over after residents received their booster shots, with the top-up programme set to be launched next Monday.
According to The Irish Times, the booster plan will see residents of long-term care facilities aged 65 and over receive another shot in a three-week sweep of the facilities.
While staff in nursing homes are not scheduled to receive a booster, new guidelines state that when there are surplus vaccines at the end of the day, “this may be used to administer a first dose to [staff] in the case of previous vaccine hesitancy”.
Those aged 80 and over living in the community will also receive a booster shot, primarily through their GPs. The boosters are for those who received their second shot of their initial vaccination regime six months ago or more.
Those suffering from a severe immunocompromising condition are to be given a third shot – formally separate from the wider booster programme and not termed a “booster” – starting from the beginning of this week.
In all more than 250,000 people are likely to be eligible for booster or third shots. The immunocompromised group is thought to number between 50,000 and 100,000, while there will be 40,000-50,000 residents in care facilities, and about another 180,000 over-80s living in the community.
It comes as the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, said that children between the age of five and 11 are unlikely to be eligible for vaccination this year.
The Minister also addressed the issue of false information circulating about Covid-19 and vaccines, saying that some people were peddling “very dangerous misinformation” but that the high vaccination take-up rate was proof that people in Ireland had “absolutely no time for it”.
Mr Donnelly said that people were being targeted online with “lies” and he urged anybody who was concerned to go to “official sources” for information about the disease and vaccine.