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'use every jab' Taoiseach Micheal Martin backs lowering the age limit on J&J Covid-19 vaccine

Lowering the age limit for both the AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines are under consideration.

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Niall Carson/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Niall Carson/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Niall Carson/PA)

The Taoiseach has voiced support for lowering the age limit on the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine to ensure no jabs go to waste.

The HSE has asked for “flexibility” to allow the use of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Janssen vaccine for people aged under 50.

Ireland’s National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has previously recommended that the Janssen and AstraZeneca jabs are not be given to people under 50 amid concerns over links with rare blood clots.

NIAC is in discussions with the health authorities, including minister Stephen Donnelly and Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan, about the issue.

I think it would ensure the maximum utilisation of all vaccines that we had, that none would go to waste and also that we would protect people faster and get as many people protected as we possibly can from the virusTaoiseach Michael Martin

Lowering the age limit for both the AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines are under consideration.

Mr Donnelly is set to bring a proposal to his cabinet colleagues later in the week.

It could see the Janssen jab used for the 45-49 age cohort.

With Ireland’s vaccination programme set to open to all those over 50 in the coming week, the country could be faced with having a surplus of AstraZeneca and Janssen jabs in the summer that they are not able to use.

The bulk of Ireland’s Janssen order does not arrive until June, by which time most over-50s should have got a first vaccine dose.

Taoiseach Michael Martin, who received his first AstraZeneca dose in Cork on Sunday, said he wanted to ensure all vaccines were put to use.

“Obviously we want every vaccine used,” he told RTE Radio One.

On the Janssen proposal, he said: “I think it would ensure the maximum utilisation of all vaccines that we had, that none would go to waste and also that we would protect people faster and get as many people protected as we possibly can from the virus.

“So our hope is it works out. It’s something that I would support.”

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Mr Donnelly, also speaking to RTE Radio One on Sunday, said Ireland would have to have a wider conversation about vaccine surpluses as the summer progressed.

He expressed support for potentially sending excess doses to countries that have vaccine shortages.

“We’re going to have a lot of excess vaccine anyway, so there’s a broader conversation to be had about what we do with our excess vaccines,” he said.

“Remember we’ve pre-purchased about 18 million doses of vaccine which is enough to vaccinate the country twice over.

“So when we come to August/September time, for example, we’re going to have a very large amount of vaccine. We’re working through that.

“One of the things I’d like to see us doing is donating it to parts of the world that haven’t got the vaccines available to them.”

He added: “We might get clinical advice, for example, that booster shots might be something that we would want late in the year or early next year.”

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