Immunology expert Professor Christine Loscher has called for the vaccine booster campaign to be immediately extended to everyone who received the one dose Janssen vaccine, “regardless of age”.
The one dose vaccine has waned with some now down to 20 per cent protection, she told Newstalk Breakfast.
A lot of young people received the Janssen vaccine, she said, and they now need to skip the queue and get the booster quicker.
While “coming down the cohorts” had been sensible to date, those who received Janssen now needed to be prioritised, she urged.
The acceleration of the booster campaign in the next 10 days is vital, added Professor Loscher.
The shortening of the interval time between second and third doses had come about because of studies, she explained, which indicated that allowing a shorter interval time did not lessen the efficacy of the booster.
There had been a three-week delay in implementing the booster campaign after it was approved by Niac, she said, as a result cases had accelerated, but now, because of the booster campaign there was more control.
The lack of “joining up” between systems in pharmacies and GP surgeries with the main campaign had also been a problem, she said.
Every effort had to be made in the next 10 days to get the maximum number of vaccines “into arms,” if not the current level of 11 per cent of Omicron cases in the country would “climb quickly”.
There was not yet enough data to indicate that Omicron caused milder symptoms, she said.
“We don’t know enough not to be concerned.”