By Rebecca Black, PA
Those aged 40 and over will be able to book a Covid-19 vaccine booster from next week, the minister from health has said.
Stephen Donnelly also said that the 15-minute wait after receiving the jab is to be waived to allow more to receive it.
On Wednesday evening, he said the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) made the recommendation, which he has accepted.
“Particularly for our GP and our pharmacists, what they signalled was that it would be very very useful in terms of being able to vaccinate more people,” he told RTE.
“It’s something we looked at again with the impending threat of Omicron to get as many people boosted as possible.”
He said vaccine centres will only close for two days over the festive season – Christmas Day and St Stephen’s Day.
Mr Donnelly said the aim is the current groups eligible for the booster – over 50s, those with underlying conditions, healthcare workers, nursing home residents and pregnant women – will all have had a booster or been offered an appointment by the end of the year.
“On top of that, starting next week, those in their 40s will begin to receive appointments from vaccine centres for their booster dose, with the doses commencing the following week,” he said.
“High-risk children, we’re starting from next week in the paediatric hospitals and that will continue to be rolled out in the vaccine centres.
“Shortly after that, parents of children with underlying conditions who are high risk will be able to register their children for appointments as well.
“We’re moving quickly, the aim will be to have in excess of 300,000 per week and all capacity is being brought to bear to that end.”