Health minister confirms Covid-19 vaccinations could begin in Ireland in January

Ireland has signed up to the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccinations, with those companies looking for market authorisation within the coming weeks.
Health minister confirms Covid-19 vaccinations could begin in Ireland in January

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly says Ireland could begin vaccinating people against Covid-19 in January. Ireland has signed up to the Pfiser and AstraZeneca vaccinations. File Picture: PA

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly says Ireland could begin vaccinating people against Covid-19 in January.

Ireland has signed up to the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccinations, with those companies looking for market authorisation within the coming weeks.

The strategy for rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine is to be presented to government by December 11, according to Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

"Potentially early in the new year we could be looking at things and Professor Brian McCraith (chairman of vaccine taskforce) and his team are obviously very quickly putting in place the distribution needed for that," the Minister for Health said on Newstalk on Sunday.

So not necessarily December but potentially very early January. I'd say December is unlikely to be honest.

"It's very heartwarming because if we go back even a few months, the experts were saying that it would be mid next year or potentially the end of next year, or indeed in three or four years time before we might see these things so it really has been very heartwarming."

Ireland is currently signed up to four of the vaccines.

"On Tuesday, and I'm bringing a memo to Government on a fifth one," Mr Donnelly added.

"So Ireland is certainly very much playing our part and making sure where we're involved we have advanced purchase of these vaccines and for various of the other ones we have advanced purchase of several million doses so it's looking good."

Several EU countries have introduced legislation on mandatory vaccination, however, Mr Donnelly says Ireland currently has no plans to do so.

"There has been no conversation at a government level about doing that, my strong preference with that is, is that it would be voluntary," he added.

"74% of people said they're in favour of taking the vaccine. 

"We've just rolled out the biggest flu vaccination programme in the history of the state and indeed, if we could get our hands on more flu vaccine people, people are looking to take it and there's also been a very strong uptake in the HPV vaccine.

"There is this anti-Vax movement, a lot of what I've seen is misinformation and I think it's very dangerous, but I think the vast majority of people see that for what it is and I think people are well disposed to taking the vaccine when it comes out."

Covid-19: Two further deaths, 299 new cases confirmed

Meanwhile, health officials this evening confirmed that a further two people have died as a result of contracting Covid-19.

The deaths bring to 2,052 the total number of Covid-19-related deaths in Ireland since the outbreak began.

Also at this evening's briefing, the HPSC said that, as of midnight last night, it had been notified of 299 new confirmed cases of Covid-19.

There has now been a total of 72,241 confirmed cases of Covid-19 here.

The national 14-day incidence rate of the virus is now 92.3 per 100,000 population.

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