The Minister should clarify if we have sufficient vaccine supply to offer choice to the over 60s cohort

Further consideration must be given to the feasibility of mixing and matching vaccine doses for the over 60s, according to Social Democrats Health Spokesperson Róisín Shortall.

“The only vaccine the over 60s cohort was offered was AstraZeneca – but the time lag between the first and second dose means many of those most vulnerable to covid will not be fully vaccinated for some considerable time.

“Coupled with this, there are concerns that the AstraZeneca vaccine is not as effective against the Delta variant as mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna.

“Given these fears, there is a strong argument for mixing and matching covid vaccines for the over 60s, so they receive an MRNA vaccine as their second dose – as is happening in a number of other jurisdictions.

“I raised this issue in the Dáil previously with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and he indicated our entire vaccine supply, for the coming months, had already been assigned to various cohorts and there was therefore no room to manoeuvre.

“The Minister should clarify if this is still the case. Do we have sufficient supply of mRNA vaccines to enable the over 60s – who were not given a choice about the type of vaccine they originally received – mix and match their second dose?

“The vaccination programme is our passport out of this crisis and we are now in a race against the time against the Delta variant.

“It is imperative that we attempt to vaccinate the most vulnerable as quickly as possible. Some progress has been made in this regard, given the time lag between first and second dose has been reduced from 12 weeks to 8 weeks.

“However, this process could be further accelerated if the over 60s were offered an mRNA vaccine as their second dose, should they opt for it.

“The Minister should clarify if we have sufficient vaccine supply to offer this choice to those who are not yet fully vaccinated and remain the most vulnerable to this awful disease.”

14 June, 2021


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