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Jab drive Everyone over 16 will be offered a vaccination by end of September, Cabinet told

Department of Health now examining whether to offer vaccines to over 12s from autumn

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Everyone aged 16 and over who wants a Covid-19 vaccine will be able to get vaccinated by the end of September, the Cabinet has been told.

Ministers were told on Tuesday that it is anticipated that all eligible persons over 16 who want a vaccine will be vaccinated by the end of September, a Government spokesman said.

It comes as deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn revealed the more transmissible Delta variant of the virus now accounted for 80pc of cases and warned the public not to let their guard down.

The Department of Health is now examining whether to offer a vaccine to children aged 12 to 15 in the autumn and winter and the possibility of making booster shots available to vulnerable groups.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) is examining whether to extend availability of Pfizer vaccine to the children over 12, while another manufacturer, Moderna, has applied to the European Medicines Agency for the use of their vaccine in this age cohort. NIAC is also examining evidence on mixing different vaccines doses.

Ministers also agreed to a proposal from Health Minister Stephen Donnelly that under 12s will no longer be required to take a PCR test on entry to the State.

Mr Donnelly told the Cabinet that to date 4.73m vaccine doses have now been administered. In total, 2.68m people, representing more than 71pc of the eligible population, have received their first vaccine dose and over 2.1 million - or more than 56pc of the eligible population - are now fully vaccinated.

The HSE administered 333,000 doses last week and the Minister told colleagues that it is expected that a further 280,000 to 300,000 doses will be administered in the coming week.

Over 40,000 doses of the single-shot Janssen vaccine have been given to 850 pharmacies with it expected that 85,000 doses will be administered in the next fortnight.

Pharmacies have given out 11,500 vaccines so far to people in the aged 50 and older cohort, ministers were told.

Cabinet was also told that of 124 patients admitted to ICU with Covid-19 between March 24 and June 23, 18 patients received one dose of a vaccine and five received two doses.

Just one patient was identified as having received their second dose more than 14 days prior to their diagnosis. This has been classified as a breakthrough infection.

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Meanwhile, the latest figures show that a further 589 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed today as the deputy chief medical officer warned the Delta variant now accounts for 80pc of cases reported.

There are 62 people in hospitals with Covid-19, 17 of whom who are being treated in intensive care units.

Dr Ronan Glynn, deputy chief medical officer said: “Scientific evidence shows that Delta is a much more transmissible variant of Covid-19, now accounting for 80% of the cases reported in Ireland.

“This is a challenge that is facing all of Europe, but we know that the basic public health measures still work against this variant. Please continue to avoid crowds, wear a mask, manage your contacts, keep your distance, meet outdoors where possible and if indoors, ensure that the room is well ventilated.

“With incidence of the disease continuing to increase, the rapid identification of cases and outbreaks of Covid-19 is essential. We are asking anyone diagnosed with Covid-19 to work with our contact tracers to identify all of your close contacts so that they, their families and colleagues can be protected.

"If you know you are a close contact of someone with Covid-19, or if you have any symptoms, stay at home and organise a free test as soon as possible.”

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