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*Cllr Pat Daly. Photograph: Eamon Ward

A “plan B” is needed for persons reluctant to get the AstraZenneca vaccine, an Ennis representative has said.

Revised recommendations were issued by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) on Monday with regard to the AstraZenneca vaccine.

It followed a conclusion of an investigation by the European Medicine Agency (EMA) on April 7th which found that unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects of Vaxzevria/AstraZeneca but that the benefits of this vaccine continue to outweigh the risks.

NIAC have said all individuals over the age of 60 can get any authorised COVID-19 vaccine, including Vaxzevria/AstraZeneca but it is not recommended for those aged under 60 years including those with medical conditions with very high or high risk of severe COVID-19 disease.

Persons that have already received Vaxzevria/AstraZeneca should continued to receive their second dose as scheduled twelve weeks later if aged 60 or older, those aged under 60 years with an underlying condition should continue to receive their second dose 12 weeks later as scheduled while persons aged under 60 years with no underlying condition should have the scheduled interval between their first and second doses extended to 16 weeks to allow for further assessment of the benefits and risks as more evidence becomes available,

Cllr Pat Daly (FF) said constituents have expressed their concerns regarding the vaccine to him in recent days particularly men and women with heart problems, high blood pressure and those that have had strokes. “They’re in fear of the vaccine, is there a plan b, is there a vaccine that can accommodate them,” he asked health officials at a HSE briefing this week.

Anxiety and fear associated with the vaccine is “understandable,” Chief Clinical Director of UL Hospitals Group, Prof Brian Lenehan acknowledged. Individuals with a heart disease are included in cohort 7, he outlined. He advised concerned individuals to consult their GP to gauge their thoughts on the vaccine.

“We can only reassure people that the vaccine is safe and efficacious, it prevents severe disease and hospitalisation. If the risks outweighed the benefits, it wouldn’t be licenced in the country. Patients with heart disease were somewhat aggrieved to be left out of Cohort 4 but they are in Cohort 7,” Lenehan added.

Clarification on the vaccinating of house bound persons was requested by Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF). She also requested what was deemed to be a definition of vulnerable populations.

A sequencing model “which splits patients into cohorts” is being used to determine the vulnerable population, Prof Lenehan explained. “Some would say we’re following a logical model, others would say not, we’re following it rigidly”. There is a standby list, he confirmed.

Chief Officer at Mid West Community Healthcare, Maria Bridgeman stated that a “relatively small number” of people would be receiving their vaccine from home. A system has been set up by the HSE in tandem with GPs who will identify individuals that are unable to leave their home to get the vaccine, the National Ambulance Service will also be involved in the process of administering these jabs, she said.

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