Paul Reid: Currently no plan to prioritise vaccination of teenagers

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Paul Reid: Currently No Plan To Prioritise Vaccination Of Teenagers
The head of the HSE says there's currently no plan to prioritise the vaccination of teenagers ahead of the return of schools in September.
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James Cox

The head of the HSE says there's currently no plan to prioritise the vaccination of teenagers ahead of the return of schools in September.

However, chief executive Paul Reid says “all options and scenarios” are being looked at when it comes to rolling out vaccines to 12 to 15-year-olds.

EU regulators approved the use of the Pfizer jab for teens in May and the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) is expected to issue new advice shortly.

Niac

Mr Reid says the Niac guidance will determine what happens between now and the start of schools in September.

“It's not currently built into our assumptions, it's not currently built into the base plan that we have (which I've referred to now as version 31) but look, everything that we have done has always been modified or planned based on emerging evidence, so we'll wait and assess any recommendations coming from them [Niac] but right now we're motoring on with the plan as we've currently set it out.”

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DCU Professor of Health Systems Anthony Staines says vaccination will help tackle the Delta variant, but those younger than that, need to get a vaccine soon.

Outbreaks

“Very high vaccination coverage is needed to prevent major outbreaks of the Delta variant. We're not going to get those very high levels of vaccine coverage probably until we vaccinate teenagers and children.”

Mr Reid also predicted all adults being fully vaccinated by the end of August or early September based on current projections.

He said the vaccine rollout will be accelerated by approval for use of the AstraZeneca and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines in younger age cohorts along with proposals for the State to purchase one million doses from Romania.

Variables

“Ultimately if we can work through all of that it could bring us right back to the end of August, early September. That’s where it could bring us if everything comes forward, the take up is as we project, there’s a few variables in there,” Mr Reid said.

He told RTÉ’s This Week programme on Sunday that 120,000 doses of the Janssen vaccine would be distributed to 850 pharmacies across the country this week.

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