The work to develop COVID-19 vaccines moved much faster than usual to make them available as soon as possible.
They have still gone through all the usual steps needed to develop a safe and effective vaccine. No short-cuts were taken.
How they were developed quickly
COVID-19 vaccines could be developed quicker than usual because:
- there was huge, global investment into their research
- the high number of new cases of COVID-19 across the world meant the vaccine trials could quickly measure differences in disease risk
- large scale manufacturing of vaccines started before the results of trials were available
- regulators and those developing the vaccines started their conversations very early so the authorisation process could be as quick as possible
Vaccines licensed for use
The COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for use in Ireland are the:
- AstraZeneca vaccine (also known as 'Vaxzevria')
- Moderna vaccine
- Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine (also known as 'Comirnaty')
- Janssen vaccine
Other COVID-19 vaccines
There are a number of COVID-19 vaccines in the final stages of licensing and approval.
We will publish more information about them once they are approved for use.
Vaccines are tested for safety and effectiveness before they can be used. The HSE only uses a vaccine if it meets the required standards of safety and effectiveness.
COVID-19 vaccines will be given to people most at risk first. As other vaccines come through the licensing process, we will offer them to the next groups until we can offer them to the general population.
After a COVID-19 vaccine is licensed for use
After a vaccine is licensed for use, several more steps are needed before the vaccine can be given.
As part of the process:
- the National Immunisation Advisory Committee complete and publish its advice on the use of COVID-19 vaccines in Ireland
- the HSE National Immunisation Office works to finalise training and education materials for vaccinators
- public information materials are prepared so they can be given to the people due to be vaccinated
- rollout plans are finalised
- vaccination teams visits and delivery of vaccines are scheduled
HSE experience of delivering vaccination programmes
The HSE has a proven track record in vaccine rollout. The rotavirus vaccine and the HPV vaccine are two examples of vaccination programmes rolled out by the HSE’s National Immunisation Office (NIO).
The rotavirus vaccine was introduced in 2016 for babies aged 2 and 4 months.
Rotavirus infection is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in children in Ireland under the age of 5 years.
Before the vaccine was introduced almost 1,000 children under the age of 5 were admitted to hospital with rotavirus infection each year. The average length of time they spent in hospital was 5 days.
Since the vaccine was introduced there has been a 91% decrease in infection for children up to 12 months of age.
The HPV vaccination rate is over 80% for the first dose in the academic year 2019 to 2020. The HPV virus can cause a range of precancerous lesions in men and women.
The more young people that get vaccinated, the better the spread of HPV infection can be controlled.
About the National Immunisation Office
The National Immunisation Office (NIO) was established in 2005. The NIO coordinates the rollout of national immunisation programmes.
They do this on behalf of the HSE based on the Department of Health’s immunisation policy.
The NIO established the National Cold Chain Delivery Service. This service safely delivers millions of doses of vaccines to providers across Ireland each year.
They provide education and information materials to support the rollout of immunisation programmes.
Content produced with NIO vaccine experts has been accredited by the WHO Vaccine Safety Network. This means it is a reliable source of vaccine information.
Last updated: 30 April 2021 at 3.45pm