Community centres and sports halls to be used as mass vaccination centres

Community centres and sports halls to be used as mass vaccination centres

It is expected that vaccinations will commence as soon as practicable after the AstraZenaca vaccine is approved by the EU. File picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

GPs and pharmacists have been formally approved to administer Covid-19 vaccines under plans signed off by the Cabinet.

GPs and pharmacists will be used to vaccinate 1.5m people, in a scheme which will cost €91m.

The plan, as signed off by ministers, will cover the administration of the vaccine in GP surgeries.

It is anticipated that other larger premises in communities, such as sports halls, community centres, as well as mass vaccination centres, are to be established by the HSE.

It comes as Ireland reported the highest daily death toll yesterday with 93 people losing their lives to the virus.

There have also been a further 2,001 new confirmed cases.

The new scheme, brought to Cabinet by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, is seen as a key component in the mass rollout of the vaccine

It is expected that vaccinations will commence as soon as practicable after the AstraZenaca vaccine is approved by the EU.

Government sources have said supplies will be delivered and rollout could commence by the end of January.

The delivery schedule for the vaccine is not certain, the confidential Cabinet memo on the vaccine rollout made clear for ministers yesterday.

Ireland will receive 3.3m doses of the "game-changer" AstraZeneca vaccine, but a delivery schedule has not been finalised.

The Cabinet memo, seen by the Irish Examiner, states that while Ireland's allocation had been agreed and an indicative delivery date set out, the company could not confirm when the doses will be in Ireland.

Mr Donnelly said on Sunday that the Government was in talks to receive these doses ahead of the approval by the European Medicines Agency. 

However, it is unclear with whom these talks have taken place or what stage they are at. 

The Irish Examiner has asked for clarity on the talks from the European Medicines Agency, the Department of Health, AstraZeneca, and the European Commission. 

The memo reads: "A Euopean Medicines Agency decision on the conditional marketing authorisation of the AstraZeneca vaccine may be made on January 29. 

"Ireland will get an allocation of 3.3m doses of AstraZeneca in line with the signed APA. This allocation will be in addition to the other vaccine deliveries and will require a significant ramp-up in the rollout programme to administer vaccinations. 

"The company has advised the HSE that deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine can be expected by mid-February but the date/s for this are not yet available as a delivery schedule has not yet been finalised."

A spokesperson for AstraZeneca said that it could not give any dates for when the vaccines would be delivered.

They said: "Through this agreement, all EU member states will have an option to access the potential vaccine in an equitable manner at no profit during the period of the pandemic. 

"The release process, including finalisation and sign-off by regulators, varies by country/region and therefore we can’t give an exact date when a specific country will receive doses."

A Government spokesman said the deal will represent “good value for money” in the context of Irish GPs getting €60 to administer a double dose, compared to £25 in Britain.

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