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25 May 2022

Covid-19 vaccine booster gap shortened to accelerate Omicron fight

Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna earn $1,000 profit every second

Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna

The gap between the second Covid-19 vaccination shot and the booster jab is being cut to just three months as the Omicron variant looms.

The recommendation was made by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee and accepted by the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

However, the booster doses will continue to be offered in the priority order previously recommended.

NIAC have also recommended a booster (fourth dose) of an mRNA vaccine no sooner than three months after their third dose for those who are immunocompromised and for whom a third dose had been previously recommended as part of an extended vaccine schedule.

NIAC have also recommended that those individuals who have received one dose of a two-dose primary vaccine schedule and who subsequently have a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, should complete their primary vaccination course four weeks after diagnosis or onset of symptoms.

Minister Donnelly said: “I welcome this update to our booster vaccination programme, and I would like to sincerely thank all of the members of the NIAC for their continued work in support of Ireland’s COVID-19 Vaccination Programme.. 

“Decreasing the interval for booster doses is an important step given Ireland’s current epidemiological situation and the increasing concern we have about the spread of the Omicron variant. This step should serve to reduce serve disease, hospitalisation and deaths, as well as having an impact on infection rates. 

“Vaccination, along with our continued adherence to the public health advice offer the best protection we have against the current wave of infection driven by the Delta variant, and as we wait further evidence relating to the impact the Omicron variant may have. 

“Continue to avoid crowds and reduce your contacts, wear a mask, including in crowded outdoor environments, keep your distance - if you feel unsafe, feel empowered to leave, open windows and avoid poorly ventilated indoor spaces and clean your hands regularly.

“Do not wait until after Christmas to receive your booster vaccine or come forward for your first dose, the benefits of receiving your booster dose far outweigh any potential risks that may arise in the meantime.”

The Department of Health and the HSE will now work to operationalise these updates.

More than 1.2 million doses of booster vaccines have been administered and the HSE expects 1.5m boosters to be given by Christmas.

The Pfizer booster is said to give 75% protection against Omicron.

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