Long-term restriction on Johnson and Johnson jab would have ‘serious’ impact

ireland
Long-Term Restriction On Johnson And Johnson Jab Would Have ‘Serious’ Impact
Coronavirus, © PA Media
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By David Young and Cate McCurry, PA

Any long-term restrictions on the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Ireland would have a “serious” impact on the immunisation programme, the Health Minister has warned.

Stephen Donnelly said Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen single-dose jab was a “big part” of Ireland’s vaccine strategy.

Around 600,000 doses were due to arrive in Ireland by June out of a total order in excess of two million jabs.

On Tuesday, Johnson & Johnson delayed distribution of its vaccine to Europe after US regulators recommended a pause in administering the jab to give time to investigate reports of a rare blood-clotting side effect.

The Citywest Covid-19 Vaccination Centre in Dublin (PA)

That development came a day after health authorities in Ireland limited use of the AstraZeneca jab to people aged over 60, again prompted by concerns around rare blood clots.

Mr Donnelly said the two setbacks had presented health authorities with a “logistical headache”.

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The minister told RTÉ One: “There’s no question that if it follows through that there are restrictions (on Johnson & Johnson), there’s no question that would require serious re-profiling of the programme.”

Asked if restrictions on the product would delay the vaccine programme, and consequently the reopening of society, Mr Donnelly replied: “There’s no question if we had to fully pull the Janssen or the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, there’s no question, you can’t vaccinate as many people with less vaccines.”

Vaccination clinics using AstraZeneca jabs are to be cancelled for the remainder of the week in Ireland, with the exception of some clinics vaccinating people over 60.

Mr Donnelly said he was working with officials on an updated rollout plan and said people who had AstraZeneca appointments cancelled would hear later in the week about a rescheduled timetable for getting different jabs.

“It’s incumbent upon us to move very quickly, so later this week we will have a re-profiled programme and we will be able to tell all of these groups of people when they can expect to be contacted,” added the minister.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the risks associated with the AstraZeneca jab were ‘minuscule’ (Niall Carson/PA)

The Government’s goal of administering 180,000 jabs this week will now be missed.

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Earlier on Tuesday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said officials will know in the coming days whether 80 per cent of the adult population will be able to receive their first vaccine by June as planned.

Mr Varadkar said the decision from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee to limit use of AstraZeneca had been a “difficult” one.

“There are well over half a million people over the age of 60 yet to be vaccinated so we will make good use of it,” he told Newstalk.

Mr Varadkar, who is a qualified doctor, said that he would have no hesitation recommending AstraZeneca to people over the age of 60.

“The risk of getting this (side-effect) is minuscule compared to getting Covid,” he added.

“I would take it myself, absolutely.”

A further 18 Covid-19 linked deaths were announced on Tuesday along with another 358 new cases of the virus.

On Tuesday morning, there were 205 coronavirus patients in hospital, 48 of whom were in ICU.

There had been 11 additional hospital admissions in the previous 24 hours.

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