Video: Niac discuss healthcare booster vaccines, Cop26, HSE vaccine centres closed

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Booster vaccines for healthcare workers

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) is meeting today to discuss extending the vaccine booster programme to healthcare workers.

Covid-19 vaccine boosters will be rolled out in the State this week for people over 60 as virus infection rates continue to surge.

The fact healthcare workers are yet to receive a booster vaccine has been the source of much anger on the frontline and the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) will meet on Monday to discuss extending the programme to healthcare workers.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has called on Niac to roll out booster vaccines to healthcare workers as soon as possible.

INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha wrote to Niac chairwoman Professor Karina Butler on Friday for the second time in a week.

A total of 3,500 healthcare staff are currently out of work due to Covid-related illnesses, a figure that has almost doubled in the past 10 days.

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Professor of Immunology at Trinity College, Kingston Mills, says Niac are taking too long to make decisions.

"The healthcare workers were among the first to be vaccinated way back in February, March. A lot of them got the AstraZeneca vaccine as well, so the immune response to that vaccine is not as strong as the one generated with mRNA vaccines - Moderna and Pfizer - so the immunity will have waned more in these."

HSE vaccination centres close for 'essential updates'

All vaccination centres will be closed on Monday, as the HSE carries out updates to its Covid-19 information system.

It came as HSE chief executive Paul Reid said thousands of people are continuing to come forward for a coronavirus jab.

In a statement on Monday, the HSE said the “essential” update to the Covax system will “provide increased capability to support our vaccination booster programme”.

People will not be able to register for a vaccination online or by phone on Monday, but GP and pharmacy vaccinations are unaffected by the update.

Mr Reid said on Twitter that, over the past six days, almost 15,000 people have come forward for vaccination.

“It is never too late,” he said.

Taoiseach at Cop26

The issue of climate change is even more pressing than Brexit or the Covid-19 pandemic Taoiseach Micheál Martin has warned as he attends the United Nations' Cop26 climate change conference, which continues in Glasgow today.

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Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mr Martin said climate change is "without question" the most serious challenge of our lifetime and must be tackled with action instead of rhetoric.

"It is once in a hundred years that you face a pandemic, but I'm convinced that climate change is an existential crisis," Mr Martin said ahead of Monday's roundtable discussion with government leaders from around the world.

"I worry for our younger generations, for children yet to be born, what kind of planet they will be born into if there are very severe weather events, such as droughts and floods," he added.

Ryanair predicts losses of €200m

Ryanair reported its first quarterly profit since before the onset of Covid-19, but said it expects to post an annual loss of up to €200 million as it would be forced to discount tickets to fill its planes over the winter.

The airline, which operated more flights this summer than its European rivals, reported on Monday an after-tax loss of €48 million for the six months to September. A company poll of analysts had forecast a loss of €43 million.

While it did not break out its after-tax profit for the three months ended September, its second quarter, the €273 million loss it reported in the first quarter implies a second quarter profit of €225 million.

US Treasury's Yellen sees Ireland thriving as investment location

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US treasury secretary Janet Yellen on Monday said Ireland will remain one of the best places in the world for multinational companies to invest in, even after Dublin gave up its prized 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate as part of a global overhaul.

Ms Yellen led the charge towards achieving a global minimum corporate tax rate of 15 per cent - endorsed by the leaders of the world's 20 biggest economies on Saturday - to end what she long described as a "race to the bottom" on corporate taxation.

Speaking in Ireland, where US companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook directly employ more than 180,000 people or around 8 per cent of the entire workforce, Ms Yellen said Ireland is "already winning this new race to the top with its robust business environment".

"Here is my honest assessment of what it will not do: It won't change this country's status as one of the best places to do business in the world," Ms Yellen told an event with the Irish heads of many of those companies, referring to the global tax deal.

"As I mentioned, there are hundreds of US companies with real roots in Ireland. Was the corporate tax rate one reason they came? I would have to imagine yes. But it was not the only reason, and it wasn't the reason they stayed, or the main reason they are here now."

Ms Yellen recalled how Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe told her during the negotiations that she could walk down the main shopping street in Dublin and any passer-by would likely be able to tell her what the corporate tax rate. That showed what a "touchstone issue" corporate tax is in Ireland, she said.

Asked if the United States cajoled Ireland into signing up to the deal, Ms Yellen said this was not the case.

"I really personally wouldn't use the word cajole. I think we had very productive meetings in which we have tried to understand the viewpoint of Ireland and its needs in terms of being able to sign onto this," she told a news conference.

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