Ireland has just surpassed the UK in vaccinating its entire population against Covid

Ireland has overtaken the United Kingdom in terms of the number of adults fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The latest figures show that Ireland has now fully vaccinated 72.5% of the adult population compared to 71.8% in the UK.

Ireland is still slightly behind in the number of first doses taken. Ireland gave at least one dose to 87.3% of the population compared to 88.4% in the UK.

It is expected, however, that a gap will close over the coming days.

For two-chamber vaccines, the intervals between the two jurisdictions differ. For example, Irish authorities recommend giving the second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech no later than four weeks after the first dose, while in the UK this is eight weeks. Guidance about periods has changed in both jurisdictions over the past six months.

However, the numbers are somewhat complicated by the fact that the UK has not provided any single Janssen vaccine to its population.

A single dose of this vaccine can be considered as having taken «at least one dose» while simultaneously making a person fully vaccinated.

The UK vaccination rollout began on December 8, roughly three weeks before Ireland gave its first dose, and it has accelerated ahead of other European countries in the weeks and months since.

As the European Union becomes embroiled in a bitter row with manufacturer AstraZeneca – which first supplied the UK with vaccines under a contract signed last year – Ireland’s spread has been so slow that the third wave of the virus began at the beginning of the year.

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However, supplies gradually increased and reliable and consistent shipments started arriving in Ireland every week from April onwards, enabling HSE to ‘step up’ the program and work through age groups.

The UK has seen similarly high levels of vaccine uptake among its population, but evidence suggests that certain regions are slowing.

The United Kingdom introduced a policy of leaving a 12-week gap between doses of AstraZeneca which was subsequently reduced to eight weeks.

Ireland insisted on the same gap at first but was later reduced to between eight and 12 weeks, and then again later to between four and 12 weeks.

Stormont’s chief scientific adviser warned this week that Northern Ireland could face a more serious wave of Covid-19 than other parts of the UK due to the deteriorating vaccination rate.

Professor Ian Young said there were concerns that people in the region seemed less willing to get an injection than those in the UK.

His comments before the association’s health committee came when the head of the immunization program, Patricia Donnelly, said uptake rates had «fallen» since the start of operation for those under 30.

As he appeared before the committee, which has been called back from recess to discuss the growing pressures of Covid within hospitals, Donnelly confirmed that vaccine-booster vaccinations would begin in Northern Ireland in September.

In Northern Ireland, as of Thursday, 83% of the adult population had received their first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine while 71% had received their full vaccinations.

Less than 60% of people between the ages of 18 and 29 received their first injection. The second lowest absorption rate is 70% for the 30-39 age group. All cohorts over 60 years of age have a 100% intake rate.

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Professor Young told the committee: «I must point out that we are behind England, Scotland and Wales in terms of the first dose of vaccination by about 5% to 6% minimum, and in some cases more than that.

“In terms of the second doses of vaccination, we are very similar to England and Scotland, but we are behind Wales by about 10%.

“Therefore, there has been concern that the willingness of the population of Northern Ireland to come forward for vaccination, for whatever reason, appears to be less than that in other parts of the United Kingdom, and that this would lead to an increase in the population at risk of infection in Northern Ireland, and consequently the possibility of a more severe wave on this occasion. .

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«Every small increase in vaccination that we can achieve will make a real difference in terms of how quickly the current wave will resolve and the potential for future waves to occur.»

Donnelly told MLAs on the panel that uptake of vaccination among the 18-29 age group was «incredibly slow.»

She said it was «extremely concerned» that the pace of the vaccination program «skewed over the edge» in June when it opened for this younger age group.

Meanwhile, as Northern Ireland prepares to close a number of mass vaccination centres, this weekend Ireland opened its first such centres, with public health officials this week to encourage younger age groups to get vaccinated.

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The broad consensus in countries with high uptake of vaccines – and countries rich enough to buy them – is that normal life will not resume for some time, but that the more people get vaccinated, the lower the risk of contracting Covid-19 and the less need for it. for restrictions.

Speaking at an NPHET briefing earlier this week, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan touched on the concept of herd immunity, an idea he said was not particularly useful from a public health standpoint.

Holohan said NPHET doesn’t target 90% of the herd’s immunity — it doesn’t use the concept, he said. But he said it was striving to ensure the highest absorption rate among those who were offered the vaccine.

He added that NPHET would not talk about herd immunity because it «is not strictly public health meaningful in the context of this particular disease» which he said has mutated many times since the pandemic first began.

– With Nikki Ryan reporting

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