We hope this message finds you well.
We are grateful for your continuing support in helping to share information about COVID-19. Below are a few communications updates for you, including some new information about vaccination for people who have health condition that put them at very high risk if they get COVID-19.
Public Health Measures
Ireland is at level 5 restrictions.
You can see the measures in place here.
COVID-19 Vaccination Programme
The vaccination programme continues to be rolled out nationwide, and more than 446,474 vaccines have been administered as of the 1st March 2021. As we move into next week, vaccination of Group 3 continues, with people aged 80 and over being invited for their vaccines by GPs. When this group is complete, we’ll move on to the next age-group, those aged 75 and over, then 70 and over. We expect to have this group vaccinated, with both doses, by the middle of May.
The HSE is also starting to make arrangements to vaccinate people with certain health conditions that put them at very high risk if they get COVID-19. This is being organised initially through hospital teams who are caring for people in this new Group 4, and will start with some patients from the week of March 8th also. It will take a little extra time to identify and invite all of the people in these groups, but we will move forward as quickly as possible.
Who is included in this group?
You can see a detailed list of who is included in this group here on the gov.ie website. https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/39038-provisional-vaccine-allocation-groups/#aged-16-69-and-at-very-high-risk-of-severe-covid-19-disease
What do I need to do?
As with Group 3, people do not need to register in advance or take any action at this time. Your hospital or healthcare team will contact you when it’s your turn to be vaccinated.
Which vaccine will be given?
This new Group 4 will be offered the AstraZeneca vaccine. The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) advised any of the approved vaccines are suitable for use for patients in this group and that the priority was to offer an effective vaccine as quickly as possible.
The immune system of some of the people in Group 4, for example people with cancer or kidney failure, may not always work as well as most other people’s immune system. For this reason, NIAC advised that there might be a stronger immune response in those people if they got the mRNA vaccine. NIAC also said that if those patients would have to wait 3 weeks or more to get the mRNA vaccine, it was better to give them an available vaccine now. This is because all of the vaccines are showing huge benefit in preventing severe disease so the sooner people are vaccinated, the better.
The available deliveries of mRNA vaccine for the next few weeks are committed to the group of people aged 70 years and older (Group 3). It would take weeks before there was mRNA vaccine available for patients in Group 4. The AstraZeneca vaccine is available from next week. Given the risk of catching COVID-19 while waiting for the mRNA vaccine we consider that it is far safer give people in Group 4 the AstraZeneca vaccine as soon as possible rather than wait to offer them an mRNA vaccine later. This also fits with the advice from NIAC to avoid a long delay.
How effective is this vaccine?
The AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna vaccines all provide a very high level of excellent protection against severe disease and hospitalisation. The initial research study of the AstraZeneca vaccine initially showed infection protection of about 60%, but most recent studies showed protection above 80% with two doses.
What should I do now?
Your hospital or healthcare team will get in touch with you over the coming weeks when it’s your turn to have the vaccine.
You can find the patient information leaflet from AstraZeneca here on the HSE website, and this is also being produced in a range of languages, and in Easy-Read format.
Where to find COVID-19 Vaccination Information
We encourage everyone to read about the COVID-19 vaccine and to get their information from a factual, trusted source – here are the links to the pages with information on the vaccine:
- Check hse.ie/covid19vaccine for information about the vaccine, information on this page is updated regularly
- Find the vaccine information materials at www.hse.ie/covid19vaccinematerials
- Details on getting the COVID-19 vaccine is updated regularly here
- Read the full COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy
- Read the National Immunisation Advisory Committee Chapter about COVID-19 vaccine
- COVID-19 vaccine information for health professionals
COVID-19 Infection Prevention Control Guidance for Staff Working in Acute and Community Mental Health Services
Friday, 5th March (from 12-1pm)
You can register for the webinar here.
For telephone access, please use the following:
Irish dial in number: 01 5260058
Access code: 181 885 1749
New Infection Prevention and Control and Antimicrobial Stewardship (IPC and AMS) eLearning Foundation Programme
There is now a new HSE funded infection prevention and control and antimicrobial stewardship (IPC and AMS) eLearning foundation programme available at no charge, and each of the learning modules is accredited with continuing education points from the RCPI.
The programme has been developed by the HSE’s national Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control Team (AMRIC), and is accessible free of charge to staff, individuals and non HSE organisations who provide health and social care services.
The programme has been designed to support all health and social care staff to protect themselves, the people they care for and their colleagues from the spread of infection by promoting best practice with respect to Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) and Antimicrobial Prescribing, Management and Stewardship in line with the 2020 HSE Interim Guidance on Infection Prevention and Control.
The programme contains an introductory overview of Infection Prevention and Control followed by 7 key topics (each module takes between 20 – 40 minutes) in line with the Interim Guidance:
-Basics of Infection Prevention and Control
-Standard and Transmission-based Precautions
-Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
-Respiratory and Cough Etiquette
How to access the course
You can access the course here on HSeLand then by following the AMRIC Resist logo on the HSeLanD homepage, by searching for ‘IPC’ in the search box or by visiting the Clinical Courses catalogue. You will then be asked to register or sign in.
The courses can be used by any organisation and are accredited; they are a useful training tool and can be accessed at any time. Online training is an important part of supporting staff during the COVID-19 pandemic as face to face training is not required to complete the courses.
Learners are awarded 1 CEU from NMBI and 2 CPD credits from RCPI for each completed module in the AMRIC programme. Staff can dip in and out of the courses at any time.
If you have any queries in relation to the course you can contact the AMRIC team email@example.com
Launching of two National Policies for Disability Services
Friday, 12th March 2021 (from 12-2pm)
You can register for the webinar here. Early booking is recommended as places are limited. Irish Sign Language/English Interpretation will be provided for the webinar.
Public Health Information
As always, for the most up to date information and advice on Coronavirus, please go to: https://www2.hse.ie/coronavirus/ and https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/. Clinical and professional guidance relating to COVID-19 is available on www.hpsc.ie where you’ll find up to date guidance for healthcare settings and non-clinical settings.
Please check here for the most up to date partner resources for COVID-19.
You can find the COVID-19 A-Z information here from the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).
Please also check the Healthy Ireland site here with further resources and information on the Keep Well campaign.
You can view the latest information on how Ireland is responding to cases of COVID-19 here.
Ireland’s COVID-19 Data Hub is available here.
If your organisation has any requests in relation to COVID-19 public health information materials, please email us at Partner.Pack@hse.ie to let us know.
We wish you good health and wellness.
COVID-19 Stakeholder Engagement