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Vax-ing news Ireland to receive 300,000 less AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines than expected

If the Oxford AstraZeneca jab is not recommended for over-65s, the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines will be given instead

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Brian MacCraith is head of the High-Level Task Force on Covid-19 Vaccination. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Brian MacCraith is head of the High-Level Task Force on Covid-19 Vaccination. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Brian MacCraith is head of the High-Level Task Force on Covid-19 Vaccination. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The delivery of Covid-19 vaccines here to the end of March will be 300,000 doses less than expected, it was confirmed today.

It is also planned to switch the brand of vaccines to be given to the over-70s if the European Medicines Agency decides not to licence the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine for the ove-65s.

Brian MacCraith, head of the vaccine taskforce, said that it was expected Ireland would have 1.4 million vaccines by the end of March, enough to vaccinate 700,000 people.

But that will now be reduced to 1.1 million because the expected volume of supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine will not materialise, the Oireachtas health committee was told.

It is expected that 190,000 doses of Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine will be delivered in February and 95,000 in March.

He said the expected 1.4 million doses by the end of March “has dropped to 1.1 million”, although that may change again.

Asked what vaccine will be given to the over-70s if the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is not recommended for over-65s, he said they will be given the Pfizer BioNTech and Moderna vaccines instead.

The aim was that GPs would still administer the vaccines to the older group.

The committee was told that over-70s will be contacted by their GPs when their vaccine is ready.

It would rely heavily on the systems GPs already have in place for calling people for the flu vaccine.

However, there are risks that some people may be missed and other ways of identifying over-70s will have to be put in place.

Mr McCraith said they are vaccinating around 48,000 people a week.

“We are sticking to the principle of administering the vaccines as soon as they arrive.”

The HSE is still working on the IT system to back up the vaccination roll-out.

It is still unable to provide daily updates on the number of vaccinations because it is highly reliant on manual input.

The hope is that once the over-70s are vaccinated that a portal will be open to the public to register for a vaccine with other information such as side-effects.

There are hopes that the one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine may be approved in April and that could lead to a large jump in vaccine availability.

There are four nursing homes which have not received vaccinations because of virus outbreaks, and the roll-out is not complete in 117 homes.

The vaccine is being administered in mental health facilities and in homes for people with a disability this week. But staff in disability homes will have to wait until February.

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