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COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for Health Professionals

Should people who have had COVID‐19 infection be offered COVID‐19 vaccine?

Yes. People who have had COVID‐19 infection should be offered COVID‐19 vaccines, as the level and duration of immunity after natural infection is unknown. Vaccination should be deferred until clinical recovery from COVID‐19 and at least four weeks after diagnosis or onset of symptoms, or four weeks from the first PCR positive specimen in those who are asymptomatic.

What if somebody is diagnosed with COVID‐19 infection after a first dose of vaccine?

Vaccination should be deferred until clinical recovery from COVID‐19 and at least four weeks after diagnosis or onset of symptoms, or four weeks from the first PCR positive specimen in those who are asymptomatic.

What if the second dose of COVID‐19 vaccine is administered at less than the recommended interval?

Comirnaty®

The advice of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee is that evidence of efficacy of doses given before 17 days is lacking. However there is also no safety and efficacy date in relation to repeating vaccination in this situation (giving a total of 3 doses). Therefore a further dose is not required. This should be reported to HPRA and an incident report form completed.

If a dose is given between 17 and 21 days, this is considered a valid dose.

COVID‐19 Vaccine Moderna®

The advice of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee is that evidence of efficacy of doses given before 24 days is lacking . However there is also no safety and efficacy date in relation to repeating vaccination in this situation (giving a total of 3 doses). Therefore a further dose is not required. This should be reported to HPRA and an incident report form completed. This should be reported to HPRA and an incident report form completed.

If a dose is given between 24 and 27 days, this is considered a valid dose.

COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca®

The advice of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee is that evidence of efficacy of doses given before 24 days is lacking . However there is also no safety and efficacy date in relation to repeating vaccination in this situation (giving a total of 3 doses). Therefore a further dose is not required. This should be reported to HPRA and an incident report form completed.

If a dose is given between 24 and 27 days , this is considered a valid dose.

What if the second dose of COVID‐19 vaccine is administered at longer than the recommended interval?

If the interval between doses is longer than the recommended interval, the second dose should still be given. The course does not need to be restarted.

What if the vaccine leaks during administration?

If some of the vaccine leaks out of the syringe during administration this is not a valid dose. A further dose of the vaccine should be administered at a separate site at the same visit.

What if a vaccine is given after the expiry date of after the use before or discard time?

If a vaccine is given after the expiry date or after the use before or discard date and time it is considered an invalid dose, and the dose should be repeated that day or as soon as possible.

This should be explained to the person and a correctly diluted dose of the vaccine should be given as soon as possible.

This should be reported to HPRA and an incident report form completed.

What if the whole multi‐dose vial of vaccine is administered instead of the recommended dose?

Trial data showed that higher doses of a similar vaccine were not harmful but the person is more likely to have more local reactions with very painful arms being reported.

The person should be reassured that this is not harmful but that they are more likely to experience pain in their injected arm. They should be given their second dose of vaccine according to the recommended schedule.

This should be reported to HPRA and an incident report form completed.

What if only the diluent of Comirnaty® is administered?

The diluent for Comirnaty® is sodium chloride, which is salt and purified water so no adverse reactions would be expected.

This should be explained to the person and a correctly diluted dose of the vaccine should be given as soon as possible.

This should be reported to HPRA and an incident report form completed.

What if an over‐diluted Comirnaty® vaccine is administered?

In this case, the person will not have received a sufficient dose of vaccine for protection.

This should be explained to the person and a correctly diluted dose of the vaccine should be given as soon as possible.

This should be reported to HPRA and an incident report form completed.

What if a person under 16 years is given Comirnaty® vaccine inadvertently?

If a person under the age of 16 years receives the vaccine inadvertently, this should be reported to the HPRA and an incident form completed. The person and their parents/guardians should be advised regarding the common adverse events expected after vaccination.

What if a person under 18 years is given the COVID‐19 Vaccine Moderna® inadvertently?

If a person under the age of 18 years receives the vaccine inadvertently, this should be reported to the HPRA and an incident form completed. The person (and their parents/guardians if less than 16 years old) should be advised regarding the common adverse events expected after vaccination.

Will a booster dose of mRNA COVID‐19 vaccines be needed?

The need for and timing of booster doses has not been established. No additional doses beyond the two‐dose primary series are recommended at this time.

What if a woman becomes pregnant between the first and second dose of vaccine?

If a woman reports that they are pregnant between the first and second dose, this should be reported to the Health Products Regulatory Authority (www.hpra.ie).

Animal studies do not indicate direct or indirect harmful effects with respect to pregnancy, embryo/foetal development, parturition or post‐natal development. The available safety data do not indicate any safety concern or harm to pregnancy, although there is insufficient evidence to recommend routine use of COVID‐19 vaccines during pregnancy. 

If a woman has recived a first dose of an mRNA vaccine (Comirnaty® or COVID‐19 Vaccine AstraZeneca®) the woman should be advised to speak to their Obstetrician (or GP) regarding the risks and benefits of receiving the second dose of COVID‐19 mRNA vaccine, once sheis at or over 14 weeks gestation. The second COVID‐19 mRNA vaccine dose should not be given while less than 14 weeks gestation.

COVID‐19 Vaccine AstraZeneca® is not recommended for pregnant women at this time.

Does a woman who wishes to conceive need to leave any interval after getting COVID‐19 vaccines before getting pregnant?

It is not necessary to leave any interval after having the vaccine and becoming pregnant. If a woman becomes pregnant following the first dose, they should wait until 14 weeks or after to get the second dose, and should discuss the risks and benefits with their Obstetrician or GP.

What if someone has a history of anaphylaxis or severe allergic reaction to a type of food ‐ can they receive a COVID‐19 vaccine?

A history of anaphylaxis or severe allergic reaction to a type of food (e.g. egg allergy) is not a contraindication to vaccination (see Immunisation Guidelines for Ireland from the National immunisation Advisory Committee.)

Persons with such a history can receive a COVID‐19 vaccine. They should be monitored for a period of 30 minutes after vaccination.

What is someone has had a reaction to a first dose of vaccine, should they get the second dose of the vaccine?

The contraindications and precautions to vaccination are detailed in section 4 of the clinical guidelines, these are as per the recommendations of the National immunisation Advisory Committee.

If someone has had a reaction to the first dose of vaccine but it is not listed as a contraindication then they can receive the second dose of the vaccine.

Where can COVID‐19 vaccine be given in the event that a person cannot receive the vaccine in the deltoid muscle?

In the event that a person cannot receive the vaccine in the deltoid muscle, the vaccine can be given into the vastus lateralis muscle.

Can mRNA vaccines like Comirnaty® and COVID‐19 Vaccine Moderna® interact with a person’s DNA?

No they cannot. The mRNA contained in these vaccines does not enter the nucleus of human cells, which is where DNA is contained. mRNA does not interact with a person’s DNA. The cell breaks down and gets rid of the mRNA soon after it is finished using the instructions.

Can viral vector vaccines like COVID‐19 Vaccine AstraZeneca® interact with a person’s DNA?

No they cannot. The viral vector enters the body's cells and delivers the genetic code for the spike protein. The human cells then produce the spike protein but there are no changes to the human DNA.

Can mRNA vaccines like Comirnaty® and COVID‐19 Vaccine Moderna® affect fertility?

There is no biologically plausible reason why the vaccines would affect fertility.The European Medicines Agency licensed documentation states that animal studies do not indicate direct or indirect harmful effects on fertility.

Does COVID‐19 Vaccine AstraZeneca® contain genetically modified organisims?

Yes. COVID‐19 Vaccine AstraZeneca contains a genetically modified adenovirus. Two genetic alterations have been made in order to make the vaccine:

- Genes essential for adenovirus replication have been deleted.

- The coronavirus (SARS‐CoV‐2) spike protein gene has been added.

The result is a genetically modified organism (GMO) with a new combination of genetic material. These changes to the adenovirus allow the vaccine to deliver the spike protein genetic code to the cells without causing COVID‐19

Does COVID‐19 Vaccine AstraZeneca® contain cells of human embryonic origin

No. The cell‐lines used in COVID‐19 Vaccine Astra Zeneca are HEK (human embryonic kidney) 293 cell lines, which were started in the 1970s using small quantities of kidney cells taken from a foetus following a termination. The termination was legal and agreed to by the mother, and it was not performed for the purpose of vaccine development.

The foetal cells were used only to begin the cell strains that were used in the preparation of the vaccine virus. Since that time (the early 1970s) the cell lines have grown independently The descendant cells are not the cells of the terminated foetus. There has been no further use of aborted foetus cells to develop the vaccine.

The original foetal cells have long since disappeared. None of these cells remain at the time the vaccine is administered.

Other vaccines are developed using cell lines that were originally of foetal origin e.g. MMR vaccine.

The Irish Catholic Bishops Conference has released a statement that it is morally permissible for Catholics to accept a vaccine which involves the use of foetal cell‐lines, especially if the potential risk to life or health is significant, as in the case of a pandemic. Read the full statement on the Catholic Bishops Website

This page was added on 5 February 2021