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ready to roll Millions of Covid-19 vaccines pre-ordered to prepare for third booster shots and jabs for teenagers

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Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The Government has confirmed that millions of vaccine doses have been pre-ordered to prepare for the possibility of a third booster shot and jabs for younger people.

The country is getting ready to roll out more Covid vaccines if boosters are recommended by leading medics, the Sunday World has learned.

A Government spokesman said it was aware that a further shot may be in order, even for the double-vaccinated, in the months ahead.

It stands ready to implement any such decision and recommendation in time from the National Immunisation Advisory Council (Niac).

“We have a pre-purchase agreement for a large amount of Pfizer vaccine, running into millions of doses,” the spokesman said. “It will allow for booster shots, if recommended, and for special vaccines for younger people, which is also envisaged,”

The comments come in the wake of Pfizer applying to US authorities for permission to make booster shots available.

The Pfizer application heightens expectation that the company will shortly make a similar application to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for approval for use in member states of the EU.

Pfizer has said initial data shows a good response from a booster dose given six months after the second dose.

It was tested against the original strain of coronavirus which was circulating in the early part of the pandemic and also the Beta variant which originated in South Africa.

“Ireland and the whole of the EU is operating in concert and has taken steps to guarantee its supply line of sufficient vaccines well into the future,” the Government spokesman said yesterday.

The vaccines ordered and to be supplied by Pfizer – with tens of millions of them to be manufactured in Ireland – “will accommodate booster shots and the vaccine programme well into 2023”, he said.

But the spokesman stressed the Government was awaiting EMA decisions and advice from the World Health Organisation, which he pointed out has called for more data on booster shots.

“There is a lot of data already that will need to be considered, along with future information,” he said.

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“A lot of discussion is taking place internationally, and the process in Ireland will be a matter for Niac in the first instance.”

Niac is now considering the implications affecting the roll-out of the vaccine over the winter months, including whether to mix vaccine types, the need for a booster shot and whether to vaccinate teenagers.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn previously said Niac is giving “active consideration” to a number of issues.

He said there were “a few key issues that are under active examination at the moment”.

“The first is heterologous, so using one type of vaccine first and then a second vaccine for the second dose,” he said.

“The second issue is whether or not we’re going to need booster doses and that remains unclear, although I note the advice in the UK yesterday, and then the third issue is the issue of vaccination of teenagers.

“So Niac is looking at all of that evidence, it’s weighing it up and when it feels that there is an appropriate level of evidence there to give advice, it will give advice and we’ll take that advice.”

Pfizer is also currently developing a version of its coronavirus vaccine that targets the Delta variant.

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