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Second jab Gap between doses of AstraZeneca vaccine set to be cut in half to just four weeks

Bid to vaccinate more over-60s sooner as Delta variant spreads

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AstraZeneca vaccine

AstraZeneca vaccine

AstraZeneca vaccine

The gap between doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine is set to be cut in half, according to a recommendation by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC), the Irish Independent understands.

The current gap is eight weeks, previously cut from 12, however it is understood that NIAC is set to recommend cutting it in half again, to just four weeks.

Such a move would make tens of thousands of people aged in their 60s eligible for a second jab sooner as the more transmissible Delta variants continues to spread.

Sources suggested that Ireland may need to invoke an emergency or special exemption mechanism to make this move, because the European Medicines Agency authorisation for the second AstraZeneca jab currently specifies 56 days, or eight weeks.

A senior source said: "It makes total sense when we want to get people aged in their sixties vaccinated. This is what we would want from NIAC."

There would be nearly three weeks for the vaccination programme to complete the nearly 100,000 people in their sixties who still requite a second dose if a delayed date for indoor dining of July 19 was chosen.

The Taoiseach has promised that all people in the 60-69 age cohort will be fully vaccinated by July 19 - and his mention of that date is seen as significant ahead of tonight's Cabinet subcommittee gathering and tomorrow's full Cabinet meeting.

The most recent figures show that only 24pc of those in their sixties have been fully vaccinated, with more than three quarters – 76pc – keen to have their second job in order to protect themselves against the deadly Delta variant.

As the oldest members of the population not to have been fully vaccinated, they are at the greatest risk of hospitalisation, intubation in ICU, and death.

A second Government source said this evening: “Yes, NIAC is recommending shorter gaps for AZ second jabs. That's all I know."

The Government expects to receive the NIAC recommendation shortly.

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