Anyone over the age of 12 who is immunocompromised will be offered a third Covid-19 vaccine dose, according to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.
This is one of the latest updates in the vaccination programme following advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC).
Several updates were made, including mRNA vaccines being recommended to pregnant women regardless of what stage of pregnancy they are at.
Those over 12 years old with weakened immune systems are to be offered an mRNA vaccine regardless of the vaccine that was initially administered to them, be it an mRNA vaccine or an adenoviral vector vaccine.
This additional dose will be administered at a minimum of two months after their last vaccine dose.
In relation to the extended vaccine administration for immunocompromised individuals, Stephen Donnelly stated, “I hope that the opportunity to receive a third or booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine dose brings comfort and reassurance to people that these vaccines are very safe and effective and offer protection from Covid-19.”
The idea of a third vaccine was recommended for those with weakened immune systems after a study found that both Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines begin to lose their efficacy after six months.
As immunocompromised and vulnerable people were the first to be vaccinated, it would put them more at risk during the winter when the vaccine efficacy starts to wane, which would be extremely problematic as the flu would also begin to circulate around that time.
However, the World Health Organisation has consistently expressed opposition towards the idea of vaccine boosters, stating that additional vaccines should be delivered to developing countries instead.