National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) issues updated recommendations on prioritisation groups for COVID-19 vaccination

National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) issues updated recommendations on prioritisation groups for COVID-19 vaccination 

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has issued updated evidence-based recommendations to the Department of Health on prioritisation groups for COVID-19 vaccination. 

Updated recommendations include:

  • There is currently no evidence to recommend a change to the vaccination programme objective from that of preventing serious disease and death to that of primarily interrupting transmission.
  • Age remains the strongest predictor of hospitalisation, ICU admission, and death.
  • Members of the Traveller and Roma communities and people who are homeless are the only specific groups identified as being at significantly increased risk of hospitalisation, ICU admission or death compared to the general population and should be prioritised for vaccination.
  • As identified by HIQA, there are other groups who may be considered for prioritisation on the grounds of equity.
  • While there may be a level of increased risk for certain ethnic groups, or certain occupations, the single highest risk factor remains age and these groups should be prioritised within their age cohort.
  • An operationally simple, age-based programme for those aged 16-64 in descending order is the most equitable and efficient way of continuing the vaccination rollout.
  • Further analysis of the data related to maternal and fetal outcomes during and post COVID-19 is warranted to inform recommendations for vaccination of pregnant women not already identified for prioritisation (healthcare workers and those with very-high- and high-risk conditions). This is being addressed as a matter of urgency.
  • There is no evidence to recommend vaccination of children at present. NIAC is keeping this under review.

The full list of updated recommendations can be viewed below.

About NIAC

NIAC includes representatives from Department of Health, HSE, the National Immunisation Office, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA),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 two representatives of the public.

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). 

Updated Recommendations: Priority Groups for COVID-19 Vaccination