COVID-19 vaccines will be available to anyone aged between 18-34 from Monday, it has been announced.
The age group will have a choice to opt-in for a Johnson & Johnson or AstraZeneca vaccine from July 5, which will be administered in over 700 pharmacies across the country.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said this will allow young people to access the vaccine up to two months earlier than expected.
From July 12, the 18-34 cohort will be able to go to the online portal to register for the viral vector vaccines, but this latest move will help speed up the process.
"Next Friday the online portal is going to open for 30 to 34 year olds ... and vaccinations will be with mRNA, mainly Pfizer and some Moderna will start about a week later," Donnelly said.
"So we'll be moving very, very quickly with 30 to 34 years olds, but in parallel to that we're opening up an AstraZeneca and Janssen option if people want to get vaccinated earlier for the entire 18 to 34 year old group.
"Next Monday pharmacies will begin administering Janssen to people aged 18 to 34, who have contacted their pharmacy registered with their pharmacy and said: 'I'd like to be vaccinated, I appreciate that I will be getting an mRNA vaccine in the future, but I want to get vaccinated earlier'."
Significant acceleration of our vaccine programme:
* 18-34-year-olds can begin to access Janssen vaccine in pharmacies from Monday. pic.twitter.com/Yhu5k7c4Xc
— Stephen Donnelly (@DonnellyStephen) July 2, 2021
Donnelly warned that supplies of the vaccines are limited but he said the move would mean that all vaccine doses are used up and none will go to waste.
Following a significant delivery of AstraZeneca this week, Mr Donnelly said the plan is to accelerate the end of the second doses for those aged 60 to 69 years and for all other cohorts who have received their first dose of AstraZeneca.
"Our intention is that in the next 10 or 11 days, everyone who has had their first dose of AstraZeneca - if they haven't already had it - will have their second dose," he said.