National Immunisation Advisory Committee issues updated recommendations for the use of COVID-19 Vaccines

National Immunisation Advisory Committee issues recommendations for the use of COVID-19 Vaccines

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has today issued a series of revised recommendations to the Department of Health.

NIAC, having considered a number of factors, including the situation with the virus in Ireland and the availability of alternative vaccines, has made a series of recommendations to the CMO who has endorsed them in advice to the Minister for Health.  The recommendations include the following: 

  • Over-50s: Both the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines recommended for administration to people aged 50 and over
  • Pregnant women: Pregnant women between 14 and 36 weeks’ gestation recommended to be offered an mRNA vaccine after discussion with their obstetric specialist
  • Pfizer/Moderna doses: It is recommended that there will be no change in the four-week gap between doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine
  • AstraZeneca doses over-50s: Those aged 50 or older who have already received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and those under 50 years at very high or high risk of severe Covid disease, are recommended to receive their second dose 12 weeks after receipt of their first
  • AstraZeneca doses under-50s: Those under 50 years of age who do not have a very high or high risk of severe Covid disease are recommended to have their second AstraZeneca dose 16 weeks after the first dose, to allow for assessment of emerging evidence regarding the risk and benefits of the second dose of this vaccine.

The Minister for Health has accepted this advice. The ultimate impact is that more vaccines will be available to more people, thus supporting the acceleration of the vaccine programme.  As with other changes to the programme, the overall impact of these new parameters for the use of vaccines will be modelled and operationalised by the High-Level Taskforce and the HSE in the coming days. 

About NIAC

NIAC includes representatives from Department of Health, HSE, the National Immunisation Office, the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), the National Virus Reference Laboratory (NVRL UCD), representatives from the Faculties and Institutes of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, RCSI, the Infectious Diseases Society, the Nursing and Midwifery Board and representatives of the public. The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) also attend NIAC meetings to provide regulatory advice in relation to vaccines.  

This group of experts meet to consider new evidence about vaccines and provide advice to the Chief Medical Officer and the Department of Health. The Department and the Minister for Health make policy decisions on vaccines which are implemented by the HSE. 

Learn more about the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC). 

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