Covid-19 booster vaccines have been approved for all people aged over 16 following a recommendation from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac).
The advice was endorsed by chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan and accepted by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.
Pregnant women will be offered the booster vaccine first followed by people in their 40s and then down the age cohorts in descending order.
The additional dose will be given at least five months (three months for the Janssen vaccine) following completion of the primary vaccination schedule.
If a person in a group for whom a booster dose is recommended has had laboratory confirmed Covid-19 infection after a completed primary vaccine course (a breakthrough infection), the booster dose will be delayed for at least six months after the Covid infection was diagnosed.
Niac has recommended that booster doses should be offered to those identified in previous recommendations such as those over 50 years, those of any age in long-term healthcare facilities, healthcare workers, and those with underlying conditions before progressing to these younger age cohorts.
This advice received by Niac reflects the recommendations made in respect of booster doses in the latest European Centre of Disease Control (ECDC) rapid risk assessment published on November 24th, these recommendations state that countries should consider a booster dose for all adults with priority being given to people aged 40 years of age and above.
Mr Donnelly said: “We continue to prioritise boosters because we know that they are having a positive impact on the level of hospitalisation, severe illness and mortality from Covid-19 in those aged over 70. I am also accelerating the booster rollout to those with underlying conditions and those in their 60s.”
He added: “I would also like to once again, ask all those who are eligible for vaccination but who have yet to receive a primary dose to do so as a matter of urgency given the continuing high rates of infection in the community. We continue to see a high proportion of unvaccinated individuals requiring hospitalisation and critical care in ICU.”