Department of Health defends Ireland's Covid-19 vaccine priority list

Chief Bio-Ethics officer Dr O’Sullivan said most countries had the same priority policy as Ireland – putting older people and front line workers first.
Department of Health defends Ireland's Covid-19 vaccine priority list

Dr O'Sullivan said that Ireland’s allocation strategy was based on a limited resource. "Decisions had been made on the basis of allocating a scarce resource. File Picture: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

The Chief Bio-Ethics officer with the Department of Health, Dr Siobhán O’Sullivan, has defended Ireland’s vaccination roll out programme and priority list.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Dr O’Sullivan said that most countries had the same priority policy as Ireland – putting older people and front line workers first.

Dr O'Sullivan said that Ireland’s allocation strategy was based on a limited resource.

She said: "Decisions had been made on the basis of allocating a scarce resource. 

"The strategy would be rolled out over time and eventually everyone who wanted the vaccine would get it, but it would take time because of the limited quantities available."

Dr O'Sullivan explained that the National Immunisation Advisory Council (NIAC) had given recommendations to the Department of Health which meant giving priority to those most at risk of dying or getting a serious illness from the virus.

She said she understood that many people felt anxious and were impatient and eager to get the vaccine, but the Department of Health was striving to ensure that they were getting the maximum benefit from a scarce resource and they were balancing that with the ethical treatment of people.

She said the Department had looked at the ethical principles involved, one of which was fairness.

"There was very little data about transmissibility of the virus and it was unknown if the vaccine would stop the onward transmission of the virus. 

"As a result of that the Department’s strategy is constantly under review," she added.

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