Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has approved the reduction of the interval between AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses from 12 weeks to eight.
This comes after the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) recommended the change, passing their advice to the chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan.
Dr Holohan confirmed on Wednesday that he had reviewed the advice and intended to formally present it to the HSE later that day.
Earlier today, Mr Donnelly met with HSE chief executive Paul Reid and the chair of the High-Level Task Force on the Covid-19 vaccination programme to approve the changes and discuss its implementation.
In a statement following the meeting, the Minister said: “The reduction in the length of the interval between doses of this vaccine will benefit in excess of 400,000 people who are waiting on a second dose and who will now get the protection of being fully vaccinated earlier.”
Mr Donnelly confirmed the changes will be phased in, with people waiting on their second AstraZeneca dose as part of a 12-week schedule being vaccinated over the next two weeks.
“We will then implement a graduated reduction, so the interval will reduce to 11, 10, 9 and then 8 weeks,” Mr Donnelly added.
Further planning on this aspect of the vaccine rollout will take place over the weekend according to the Department of Health, with exact timings contingent on supplies.