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Pharmacies to start vaccinating 18-34-year-olds today; Vaccination of children will begin in August

DUBLIN: About 750 pharmacies across the country will start administering COVID-19 vaccines to 18-34 year olds from today, July 5. People in this age group will have the option of receiving the Johnson & Johnson or AstraZeneca vaccine. Those who choose the Jansen vaccine (J&J) can schedule a vaccine appointment with their local pharmacy and get vaccinated starting today.

Others who want the AstraZeneca vaccine can wait another week to get their first shot at a vaccination centre. Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said that from Monday, July 12, anyone between the ages of 18 and 34 will be able to go on to the vaccine portal and choose whether they want AstraZeneca or Janssen vaccine.

With initiatives being taken to accelerate vaccine distribution in the country, it is expected that all adults will be able to complete their vaccination a month earlier than previously announced. According to government sources, everyone over the age of 18 will be offered the vaccine by the end of August or the first week of September.

The Government is trying to make at least the first dose of vaccine available to everyone in the country as soon as possible, following warnings that the Delta variant may spread rapidly and cause a fourth wave of COVID-19.

Vaccination for children will begin in August

The COVID-19 vaccination for children under the age of 12 is expected to begin in August. The government hopes to open schools by the end of August.

At the same time, there are concerns about whether schools will be able to reopen next month, as a fourth wave of COVID-19 is expected to hit Ireland in the first week of August. However, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that there is no possibility of another lockdown. The government is of the view that vaccination of children should not be delayed even if the situation worsens.

The government intends to start vaccinating children as soon as clinical advice allows, using the HSE’s Schools Immunisation Programme in addition to the existing COVID-19 vaccination infrastructure.

No vaccine hesitancy for younger people

The Irish Pharmacy Union said there were no signs of vaccine hesitancy among the younger age group and that they have shown very interest in receiving Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot jab.

The union said pharmacists have received ten calls for every available inoculation from those aged 18 to 34 since the registration for this age group opened on Friday.

Ciara Toolen, superintendent of Adrian Dunne Pharmacies, said that 25,000 people registered on Friday across 12 of their pharmacies. It’s been “pretty hectic” in the 48 hours since then, she added.

Ms. Toolen said: “On Friday, all the pharmacists around the country were having their breakfasts and listening to the announcement being made over the radio so I think we were all a bit shocked.

“We really didn’t know what we were heading into in the pharmacies that day, all the uncertainties of vaccine supply and the logistics of how we were going to go about vaccinating this age group. In saying that, we’re all delighted, it’s a really positive announcement for Irish pharmacies.”

She said that some pharmacies have less stock of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and will receive new supplies only in the middle of the week.

“We were told on Friday that we’re due to get another delivery of the Janssen vaccines next Wednesday, Thursday or Friday but every pharmacy will be receiving 50 doses.

“We really are hoping the HSE will divert more vaccines to the pharmacies so we can roll out the vaccination process quicker, but it’s very much limited to the number of vaccines we get so fingers crossed, every week we’ll be getting an additional supply,” Ms. Toolen added.

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