The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, has announced the extension of the COVID-19 booster vaccination programme to healthcare workers. This follows recommendations made by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO). The CMO has endorsed these recommendations.
The NIAC has recommended that a booster dose of an mRNA vaccine be offered to all frontline healthcare workers who have completed their primary course with any COVID-19 vaccine. As with other cohorts, the booster dose should ideally be given six months (with a minimum interval of five months) following completion of the primary vaccination schedule.
If a healthcare worker has had laboratory confirmed COVID-19 infection after a completed primary vaccine course (i.e., a breakthrough infection), the booster dose should be delayed for at least six months after the COVID-19 infection was diagnosed.
Minister Donnelly said: “Our frontline healthcare workers have been at the cold face of this pandemic for almost two years, caring for those most vulnerable and making extraordinary personal sacrifices. As with all decisions regarding the administration of COVID-19 vaccines, the NIAC have reviewed international evidence in presenting these recommendations.”
“I am working with my Department and the HSE to implement these recommendations as soon as possible.”
“It is important that we remember that vaccination, along with our continued adherence to the public health advice we are all so familiar with are the best ways we can protect each other.”
Endorsing the recommendations, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said: “NIAC have today recommended a booster dose of an mRNA vaccine for healthcare workers to be given six months following completion of their primary vaccination schedule."
“NIAC have also noted that breakthrough infections in healthcare workers are largely acquired in the community."
“We know that vaccination is very successful at preventing severe illness and hospitalisation. We also know that even when vaccinated we still need to maintain other basic public health interventions - washing our hands, opening windows, wearing masks and most importantly, staying home when we have symptoms. These simple measures have shown themselves right through the pandemic to be very successful at breaking the chains of transmission of this disease."
“As we practice all elements of the public health advice, we keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.”