positive move  | 

Minister reveals HSE to roll out fourth Covid-19 vaccine dose for 65s and older

There will have to be a minimum four month gap between between the person's last dose and the new one

Minister Stephen Donnolly

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said that planning has already begun within the HSE to roll out a fourth Covid vaccine dose for everyone aged 65 and older.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has recommended the move alongside a second booster for those aged 12 and older who are immunocompromised.

The committee also said that children aged five to 11 who are immunocompromised should complete an extended primary course, which is a total of three vaccine doses.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Minister Donnelly said he accepted the advice of NIAC, adding that it is also advised that there should be a six-month period between this new dose and the previous one.

However, a four-month time gap may be appropriate in some cases.

"NIAC has advised ideally that there would be a six-month gap between this new booster and the last one, but it could be four months where that is appropriate,” the minister said.

"So we'll be looking to put that in place now, very quickly with HSE."

Speaking on the same programme, the Minister defended Dr Tony Holohan's new job amid confusion over how much money he is being paid.

The Chief Medical Officer will step down from his role in the summer to join Trinity College as Professor of Public Health Strategy and Leadership on July 1.

However, Holohan will remain a civil servant and his €187,000 a year public service salary will be paid by the Department of Health.

Minister Donnelly labelled it a "positive move" for the country.

He said: "What Dr Holohan is going to be doing now is leading up research in Trinity on what in healthcare is going to be one of the most important areas of research we have for years.

"Dr Holohan could, if he wanted, stay in his role of CMO and the Department of Health for many years to come. He's done an excellent job, there's very broad support for the work he does."

Minister Donnelly added that it wouldn't matter who is paying the wages of the new role.

He said: "The Department of Health and the country is going to benefit greatly out of this. What Tony is going to be doing in Trinity is leading national research on pandemic preparedness.

“He's probably uniquely qualified in the country given his role as CMO and everything he's done in the pandemic. He'll be organising collaborations across universities, with the WHO, the EU. It's incredibly important work.”

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