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Government may consider lowering age limit for administering J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines

DUBLIN: The government is considering lowering the age limit for AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccine administration. The decision to give the vaccine dose to those under 50 years of age is to ensure that no jabs are wasted.

The HSE has asked for “flexibility” in order to allow the use of the J&J vaccine for people under the age of 50. Taoiseach Micheál Martin also supported the HSE’s demand. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is currently the only single-dose vaccine available. The Minister for Health has indicated that a proposal in this regard may be brought before the Cabinet soon.

Vaccination of people under the age of 50 in Ireland will begin in the coming weeks. The bulk of J&J vaccine orders are also expected to arrive here after June. At that time, people over 50 would have been vaccinated here. Therefore, there is a high chance that these vaccines will go to waste.

The previous purchase of 18 million doses of vaccine would be enough to provide two doses to all sections of the country. Therefore, the Minister Stephen Donnelly has revealed that there will be a large surplus of vaccine by August and September. “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.

Mr. Donnelly said that as the summer progressed, Ireland would need to have a wider conversation about vaccine surpluses. He also suggested that vaccines be given to countries facing a shortage.

The Taoiseach, who received his first AstraZeneca dose in Cork on Sunday, said he wanted to ensure that all vaccines were put to use.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has previously recommended that J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines be limited to people over the age of 50 due to concerns over links with rare blood clots. The NIAC is in discussions with Health Minister and CMO Dr. Tony Holohan in this regard. The health minister is expected to submit a proposal to the cabinet this week. It is learned that the minister is proposing that the J&J vaccine be given to people aged 45-49.

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