March 5th, 2021
The vaccination programme continues to be rolled out nationwide, and more than 446,474 vaccines have been administered as of the 1st March 2021. As we move into next week, vaccination of Group 3 continues, with people aged 80 and over being invited for their vaccines by GPs. When this group is complete, we’ll move on to the next age-group, those aged 75 and over, then 70 and over. We expect to have this group vaccinated, with both doses, by the middle of May.
The HSE is also starting to make arrangements to vaccinate people with certain health conditions that put them at very high risk if they get COVID-19. This is being organised initially through hospital teams who are caring for people in this new Group 4, and will start with some patients from the week of March 8th also. It will take a little extra time to identify and invite all of the people in these groups, but we will move forward as quickly as possible.
Who is included in this group?
You can see a detailed list of who is included in this group here on the gov.ie website. https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/39038-provisional-vaccine-allocation-groups/#aged-16-69-and-at-very-high-risk-of-severe-covid-19-disease
What do I need to do?
As with Group 3, people do not need to register in advance or take any action at this time. Your hospital or healthcare team will contact you when it’s your turn to be vaccinated.
Which vaccine will be given?
This new Group 4 will be offered the AstraZeneca vaccine. The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) advised any of the approved vaccines are suitable for use for patients in this group and that the priority was to offer an effective vaccine as quickly as possible.
The immune system of some of the people in Group 4, for example people with cancer or kidney failure, may not always work as well as most other people’s immune system. For this reason, NIAC advised that there might be a stronger immune response in those people if they got the mRNA vaccine. NIAC also said that if those patients would have to wait 3 weeks or more to get the mRNA vaccine, it was better to give them an available vaccine now. This is because all of the vaccines are showing huge benefit in preventing severe disease so the sooner people are vaccinated, the better.
The available deliveries of mRNA vaccine for the next few weeks are committed to the group of people aged 70 years and older (Group 3). It would take weeks before there was mRNA vaccine available for patients in Group 4. The AstraZeneca vaccine is available from next week. Given the risk of catching COVID-19 while waiting for the mRNA vaccine we consider that it is far safer give people in Group 4 the AstraZeneca vaccine as soon as possible rather than wait to offer them an mRNA vaccine later. This also fits with the advice from NIAC to avoid a long delay.
How effective is this vaccine?
The AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines all provide a very high level of excellent protection against severe disease and hospitalisation. The initial research study of the AstraZeneca vaccine initially showed infection protection of about 60%, but most recent studies showed protection above 80% with two doses.
What should I do now?
Your hospital or healthcare team will get in touch with you over the coming weeks when it’s your turn to have the vaccine.
You can find the patient information leaflet from AstraZeneca here on the HSE website, and this is also being produced in a range of languages, and in Easy-Read format.
Where to find COVID-19 Vaccination Information
We encourage everyone to read about the COVID-19 vaccine and to get their information from a factual, trusted source – here are the links to the pages with information on the vaccine:
- Check ie/covid19vaccinefor information about the vaccine, information on this page is updated regularly
- Find the vaccine information materials at hse.ie/covid19vaccinematerials
- Details on getting the COVID-19 vaccine is updated regularly here
- Read the full COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy
- Read the National Immunisation Advisory Committee Chapter about COVID-19 vaccine
- COVID-19 vaccine information for health professionals