Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has announced that from next Monday (July 5th), Janssen vaccines will be available to the 18-34 years cohort in pharmacies.
Additionally, that age group will be able to avail of mRNA vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) through the vaccination programme portal.
From Friday, July 9th the portal will open for 30-34 and will then proceed down through the age group.
“We want to make sure every vaccine is used,” Mr Donnelly told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.
Significant acceleration of our vaccine programme:
* 18-34-year-olds can begin to access Janssen vaccine in pharmacies from Monday. pic.twitter.com/Yhu5k7c4Xc
— Stephen Donnelly (@DonnellyStephen) July 2, 2021
Making the vaccines available through pharmacies will mean that many will be vaccinated one to two months earlier than anticipated which will be of huge benefit to them, he added.
There are 750 pharmacies who will participate in the vaccination programme with 40,000 doses of Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine already in stock. Approximately 205,000-210,000 Janssen doses are due for delivery in July and more in August, while 100,000 AstraZeneca doses are expected to arrive this month, Mr Donnelly said.
Within the next 10-11 days everyone who received their first AstraZeneca dose will receive their second dose, the Minister added, speeding up the process by a week.
The vaccination IT system will record the details of where a person has been vaccinated so there will be no overlap, he explained.
They’ll be vaccinated earlier than if they waited for the mRNA vaccine.
Mr Donnelly said the estimate for people aged 25-29 to get their first dose, should they wait for mRNA, would be early August, with people aged 18-24 waiting until mid-August, meaning it would be early to mid-September before they get their second dose and are fully vaccinated.
Mr Donnelly added: “The following week, the week of the 12th of July, 18 to 34-year-olds will also be able to register on the HSE portal for an appointment in a vaccine centre for an earlier vaccination.
“In the main that will be AstraZeneca, and there will be some Janssen supply available as well. The point is, they’ll then be vaccinated earlier than if they waited for the mRNA vaccine.”
'Raring to go'
Earlier this morning, chief executive of the Irish Pharmacy Union, Darragh O'Loughlin said his members were “ready and raring to go” to provide the vaccine to the under-35s.
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Mr O'Loughlin said members “will be delighted” to further assist the vaccine rollout.
There were pharmacies around the country who already had stocks of Jannsen which they were using for the over-50s: “We just need the Minister to give us the plan. We have the protocols in place,” he said.
All vaccines would be administered on an appointment-only basis in batches of five, as there were five doses in each vial, and queue management would be key, he added.
Speaking on the same programme, Professor of Immunology Christine Loscher said pharmacies had played a “huge role” in the flu programme and could perform a similar role in the vaccine roll out.
The problem with the Delta variant, she explained, was that it would have the most impact on the unvaccinated.
The strategy during the wave of the Alpha variant was to achieve as many first doses as possible, to combat the Delta variant a second dose was needed and there was still a large cohort who were unvaccinated.