Acceleration of COVID-19 Booster Vaccine Programme Announced
The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly has announced the acceleration of the COVID-19 Booster Vaccine Programme. Given the emergence of the Omicron variant and demonstrable impact of the booster dose for those who received it, the aim is to ensure that all the risk groups have the opportunity to be vaccinated with a booster, had an appointment or can attend a walk in clinic in a vaccination centre or pharmacy by the end of the year.
The HSE has updated the programme including the following:
- Extending the hours of our Vaccination Centres from 8am to 8pm 7 days a week, operating both walk-in and appointment-based clinics.
- Increasing capacity in vaccination centres (for example: UCD Vaccination Centre increased from 10 to 15 booths).
- Opening of new Vaccination Centres including Richmond Barracks in Dublin, RDS in Dublin, and a further centre opening in Cork City in early January.
- Expanding GP Practice participation from over 75% to full participation nationwide, with practices only delivering urgent care outside of the Booster Programme – this will double the weekly booster doses administered by GPs.
- Increasing the number of pharmacies participating in the programme to 700 this week and aiming to further increase to 1000 participating pharmacies.
- Widening the programme to those aged 40+ from the week commencing 27 December.
- Commencing the primary vaccination of high-risk children aged 5 – 11 on 20 December (through paediatric hospitals), opening online registration for children with underlying conditions during the week commencing 27 December, with the programme extending to all 5-11 year olds in January.
- Enhanced support from the Defence Forces and other areas of the public service providing a range of supports in vaccination centres.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said, “Ireland has continued to be a frontrunner in the delivery and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines internationally. With over 1.2 million booster doses administered to date, we are currently operating an advanced hybrid model of delivery in Ireland to ensure those who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 are further protected. In advance of the festive season, I have asked that the HSE update the programme to maximise delivery.”
“It is the intention that we will deliver an average of 300,000 booster doses a week in the coming weeks. I am also pleased to announce that vulnerable children aged 5-11 will begin to be offered an appointment from next week and the booster programme will commence offering appointments to those aged 40 – 49 on the week commencing 27 December. To support this the HSE are implementing a number of capacity-increasing measures including extended opening hours in Vaccination Clinics and the participation of even more GPs and Pharmacies.”