Covid-19 vaccine: HSE extends interval between first and second jabs in move to vaccinate more people

The HSE is extending the interval between the first and second doses of the Covid-19 vaccine from 21 to 28 days in a move that will spread the benefit of the vaccine to more people.

In a letter on Thursday, HSE management was told that the interval was being extended to 28 days for “anyone who has their first dose of this vaccine from Monday, January 18th, 2021.”

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the only Covid-19 vaccine being administered in the State, is about 52 per cent effective after the first dose, according to data published by Pfizer last month.

The extension of the dose interval will mean that there will be more vaccine first doses available to be given to frontline healthcare workers in hospitals and to residents and staff in nursing homes who are all being inoculated in the early stages of the vaccination programme.

The HSE said that the National Immunisation Advisory Committee updated their advice on the dose interval for the vaccine in guidelines published on Wednesday. The guidelines show that the vaccine course consists of two doses between 21 and 28 days apart.

“If the interval between doses is longer than 28 days, the second dose should still be given as soon as possible. The course does not need to be restarted,” the guidelines state.

All long-term care facilities will be sent new information leaflets to allow them to inform residents and staff of the change and aftercare leaflets are being updated with the changes.

“It is vitally important that all stocks of old information materials and aftercare leaflets are removed from circulation so that they cannot be used from 18th January,” says the HSE letter from senior manager David Walsh to management across the health service.

“The vaccinator should confirm to the recipient at the time of vaccination that their second dose is due 28 days after the first dose. Schedules for second dose of vaccinations should be updated accordingly.”

A HSE spokeswoman told The Irish Times the decision will “enable us to maximise our resources and vaccinate more people as new supplies of the vaccine come into the country”.

“For those who have already received their first dose, they will still receive their second dose as originally planned, and will not be affected by the change.

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