Acting CMO Dr Ronan Glynn is looking at whether spacing out the Pfizer doses of the vaccine, of which 2.6m will arrive into Ireland over the next three months, was feasible, the Health Minister has said.
Stephen Donnelly toldon Newstalk that the proposal, which was today boosted by the announcement of an additional 545,000 Pfizer doses in this quarter, was being examined.
"Dr Glynn and I were talking about that after Cabinet today. The question is what happens to the programme and is there any scientific questions about moving that to eight weeks or 12 weeks."
Mr Donnelly said that the Covid-19 vaccines were "astoundingly effective" and their benefits could already be seen across the healthcare and nursing home sectors.
He said that a decision would come "within a week".
"We are very, very aware that we have to move the programme quickly."
Mr Donnelly added that the opening of the online portal for 65 - 69 year-olds was "a big day."
Earlier this afternoon, the Government said Ireland's vaccine programme is "agile and responsive to any EU or global changes."
In a statement after Cabinet was updated, the Government said that the pausing of the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the decision to limit the use of the AstraZeneca dose to those over 60 were being factored in as the vaccine rollout continues.
The Government says that it is "currently recalibrating the programme's approach".
It said that all those aged 59 and under in very-high risk and high-risk categories who have yet to be vaccinated will receive an alternative vaccine and that this would commence now, after vaccination appointments this week that were due to use the AstraZeneca vaccine were cancelled.
The Government statement said the portal to allow members of the public aged 65 to 69 to book a vaccine will open on Thursday.
"To meet the increasing supply, there is an online portal to allow people to book their vaccination. Mass vaccination centres will be used across the country to effectively administer the vaccine at scale.
"The online portal opens tomorrow for those aged 65-69 to register on a staggered basis. Those aged 60-64 will be next. This is available at www.hse.ie."
The statement said that the vaccine programme is "a key enabler to the reopening of society and the economy" and that the benefits are being seen already.
"As we progress through this pre-recovery phase of the pandemic, we are seeing a welcome reduction in Covid-19 cases, hospitalisations, ICU admissions and deaths.
"The immediate focus of the vaccine plan is on those at higher risk and those aged 60 and over and that rollout is continuing. The remainder of the population, in order of age will follow.
"The Government will continue to make every effort to ensure that the vaccine rollout is a successful one so that we can all look forward to the restrictions being lifted over the next while as we look forward to the Summer."