Taoiseach Micheál Martin has expressed support for lowering the age limit for the Johnson and Johnson covid-19 vaccine, to ensure that there are no excess vaccines left over after the rollout is done.
While the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) had previously advised that the J&J and AstraZeneca jabs not be given to people under the age of 50 after it was discovered that they may be linked to rare blood clots, the HSE has asked for “flexibility” to allow them to administer doses to younger people.
National Immunisation Advisory Committee to recommend Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines for over-50s https://t.co/7wqjaLVaSf
— The Irish Times (@IrishTimes) April 26, 2021
EMA due to issue recommendation on the use of the single-shot Janssen vaccine across the EU tomorrow https://t.co/Q6GRWtS8zn
— anna holligan 🎙 (@annaholligan) April 19, 2021
NIAC is now reportedly in discussions with NPHET, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan, as well as Health Minister Stephen Donnelly regarding the issue.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has already voiced his support for the idea.
“Obviously we want every vaccine used,” said the Taoiseach.
“I think it would ensure the maximum utilisation of all vaccines that we had, that none would go to waste and also that we would protect people faster and get as many people protected as we possibly can from the virus.
“So our hope is it works out. It’s something that I would support.”
If implemented, this policy change could see the J&J jab being used for those aged 45 to 49.
According to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, Ireland has ordered enough vaccine doses to vaccinate the country “twice over” and will likely see significant surplus when all is said and done.
“We’re going to have a lot of excess vaccine anyway, so there’s a broader conversation to be had about what we do with our excess vaccines,” he said.
“Remember we’ve pre-purchased about 18 million doses of vaccine which is enough to vaccinate the country twice over. So when we come to August/September time, for example, we’re going to have a very large amount of vaccine. We’re working through that.
“One of the things I’d like to see us doing is donating it to parts of the world that haven’t got the vaccines available to them.
“We might get clinical advice, for example, that booster shots might be something that we would want late in the year or early next year,” he added.