The definition of vaccinated person has been changed for the purposes of people travelling into the country, with two Chinese vaccines having been added to the list of approved vaccines.
The Minister for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora, Colm Brophy, said the changes would be welcome news for members of the diaspora, many of whom have not been home for more than two years.
The Chinese vaccines CoronaVac (also known as Sinovac) and SinoPharm (BIBP) are now cited in the definition of who has been vaccinated against Covid-19.
A heterologous (mixed) dose of any of the other accepted vaccines, and a single dose of any of the accepted vaccines administered within 180 days of a positive PCR test result, have also been included in respect of the definition of a vaccinated person.
“Along with the ongoing rollout of the EU Digital Covid Certificate to Irish citizens vaccinated outside the EU who are already fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine, these welcome changes will make it easier for our diaspora to travel back to Ireland and to travel freely within the Union,” Mr Brophy said.
CoronaVac and SinoPharm were both given the green light earlier this year by the World Health Organisation in respect of their inclusion in the global rollout of vaccines to be used in the fight against the pandemic.
The two vaccines account for almost half of the more than seven billion vaccination doses that have been administered globally.
The Chinese vaccines have been given to more than two billion people in China but also to people in more than a billion people in Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, the Philippines and elsewhere.
Some recent studies have provoked concern about the Chinese vaccines, which are based on the use of killed or inactivated viruses to provoke the vaccine response.
The studies have raised concerns that the level of protection against the disease wanes more quickly than is the case with other vaccines, particularly in relation to older people.
In October the WHO recommended that a third, additional dose of the Chinese vaccines should be offered to people over 60 years of age as part of an extended primary series of doses, or that a third dose might involve a different vaccine.