Updated at 21:38
The Government has approved an update to the Covid-19 vaccination allocation strategy this evening.
They said the strategy sets out the groups to be prioritised for vaccination to best achieve the vaccination programme’s objectives of preventing serious illness, hospitalisation and death.
Under these changes, vaccinations will be given on the basis of age only rather than age and profession.
In a statement released this evening. Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly said: “The vast majority of those who have received vaccines are our most at risk loved ones who have suffered the highest burden of serious illness and death, as well as the social isolation the necessary public health measures have created.”
“We have seen nursing home residents and staff, frontline healthcare workers and those aged over 80 receive their COVID-19 vaccines and infection rates in these groups has fallen dramatically, and as a result, we have seen clear evidence of vaccination bonus in this cohort, and recently saw visits to nursing homes restart.”
He said vaccination of those aged 16-69 at very high risk from Covid-19 due to specific medical conditions is underway.
Mr Donnelly added “The age-based approach will make the roll-out more efficient at higher volumes of vaccinations, and better meets the objective of protecting those at highest risk first.
“The move to an allocation strategy focused largely on clinical risk – that is age and medical conditions - makes Ireland’s vaccination programme more efficient, more transparent and fairer,” said Minister Donnelly.
Earlier The Irish Times reported that the change will not take effect until those over the age of 70 are inoculated, as well as those with underlying health conditions and those under the age of 65 in long term residential facilities.
It follows an evidence review by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) which found that no occupational group emerged as being at higher risk, independent of age and other co-morbitities.
The change means that individual groups such as gardaí, teachers and family carers will not be bumped up the queue for vaccines.
Government sources hope that a simpler, age-based approach, which will proceed in 10-year cohorts, will reduce the administrative burden involved. The move follows similar developments in the UK.