Vaccination Machinations

As Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccination programme stumbles along, well behind schedule, the Irish Government keeps saying – despite all the evidence – that it will meet its target of 82% of the adult population have received a first dose by the end of June. Actually they say that “will either have received or been offered a dose” by then. This may end up with people registering for their shot and being counted if they are given a date to receive it some time later in the year.

As of Wednesday 28th April, 1,067,378 people have received their first dose in Ireland. That will have to increase to to over 3 million to reach the 82% target by the end of June. There is also the fact that only 419,655 have had their second dose so not all the shots delivered in the next two months will be first doses. Looking at the current rate of vaccination, which is around 35,000 per day – it does not seem at all likely to me that it will be possible to hit the target. The Government is claiming 450,000 doses per week in June, which seems not just optimistic but delusional. I hope I’m proved wrong.

Recently the HSE recommended that two of the available vaccines – AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson – can only be given to the over-50s, which is the next cohort due to be allowed to register for vaccination (starting next week) and to which I happen to belong. If the Government is to reach its target it will have to use almost all the shots it receives in the next two months, including AZ and J&J. The problem this poses is: (1) the over 50s are next in line, according to the age-based priority system being implemented; and (2) most of the 600,000 J&J doses coming to Ireland won’t arrive until late June.  The number of people currently unvaccinated in the 50-59 age group is about 550,000. The obvious suggestion would therefore to be to make the over-50s wait for the J&J to arrive.

(Of course the over-50s also qualify for the AstraZeneca vaccine, but I won’t discuss that because the supply of that has been so unreliable that it would seem to me to be unwise to count on it for anything. There’s a strong case for just forgetting about AZ and giving the surplus doses to countries that need them more, e.g. India. I also wish the EU well in its legal case against AstraZeneca for multiple and egregious breaches of contract.)

Anyway, unless the advice on use of J&J is changed, the only way to use most of the J&J doses is on the fifty-somethings whose will have to be delayed in order to wait for the doses to arrive. If the decision is made to do this then I won’t be vaccinated until the end of June or later, even if the promised deliveries arrive on schedule. If J&J are as unreliable as AstraZeneca then I may not be vaccinated until much later. The upshot of this shot is that it is a single-shot, so recipients would count as fully vaccinated immediately.

This would also mean  Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna doses sitting around unused, so there is a case for moving on to younger cohorts to use up these doses until the J&J doses arrive for us oldies. I expect to be able to register for my vaccine next week but it’s anyone’s guess when I’ll actually be able to get my jab. I have even toyed with the idea of going back to Cardiff to get my vaccination there…

I’m pretty much resigned at this stage to having to wait at least another two months to receive my jab, and for that to probably be the J&J vaccine, but the vaccination programme has changed umpteen times during the course of April and it could change again in May. We’ll see. We live in interesting times.



One Response to “Vaccination Machinations”

  1. […] Racecourse, near Naas; Citiwest is in County Dublin); and the vaccine (for reasons I discussed here, I assumed I would be given either the AstraZeneca or Janssen (J&J) vaccine). Anyway, I’m […]

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