Video: Booster programme expansion, Omicron latest, GPs under pressure

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James Cox

Booster programme expansion

The Minister for Health has brought proposals to Cabinet to expand the Covid-19 booster programme to more GPs, pharmacies and pop-up vaccine centres.

Stephen Donnelly said the Government will assess more measures and scheduling options so more people can get the booster jab.

Speaking on his way into a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning, Mr Donnelly said his department will be working with the HSE to enhance the programme.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin also called for “all hands on deck” over the booster campaign.

Pfizer jab ‘offers 70% protection against hospital admission with Omicron’

Most cases of Omicron in South Africa are mild, the head of its medical association has told British MPs, as new real-world data suggests two doses of the Pfizer vaccine offer 70 per cent protection against hospital admission.

Dr Angelique Coetzee, chairwoman of the South African Medical Association, told the UK's House of Commons Science and Technology Committee she agrees with a new study from the South African Medical Research Council suggesting that Omicron may be 29 per cent less severe than previous waves.

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She said “we don’t have all the answers” but the clinical picture so far is that people are mostly suffering mild illness from Omicron.

Dr Coetzee said some people are getting breakthrough infections if they are vaccinated or if they have had Covid before, but cases seemed to be milder, especially for the vaccinated.

People asked not to seek an appointment with their GP unless urgent

The chairperson of the Irish Medical Organisation’s GP committee, Dr Denis McCauley has called on the public not to seek an appointment with their GP unless it is urgent.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland Dr McCauley said that interest in getting the booster vaccine had increased among the public in recent times.

GPs are trying to balance Covid and non-Covid care, he said, and the reduction in the wait time for the booster dose to three months would increase demand.

Dr McCauley said he imagined the change to three months would come into effect “in the next few days” which would put more pressure on GPs.

Over 75 per cent of general practices were giving boosters, mainly to the clinically vulnerable and on an age-related basis.

GPs had given approximately 80,000 doses, he said, with a new cohort being added, this would mean more pressure.

An immunologist answers parents' Covid vaccine concerns

Parents will soon be invited to register children aged five to 11 for Covid-19 vaccination.

The moves comes after vaccines for children were recommended by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac), following approval from the European Medicines Agency on November 25th.

“I would be more than happy to give it to my child or my grandchild in that age group,” said Professor Karina Butler, chair of Niac, following the recommendation.

However, some parents still have concerns around vaccinations for children.

Professor Ed Lavelle, head of the school of biochemistry and immunology at Trinity College Dublin, spoke to BreakingNews.ie about Covid vaccines for children and addressed some of these concerns in the following Q&A.

Click here to read the Q&A.

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