The HSE will be required to replan the vaccination schedule again after AstraZeneca announced there would be a shortfall in deliveries next week, an Oireachtas committee has heard.
Last week, the HSE revealed revised vaccine plans for the second quarter of the year, which provided dates at which various age groups would expect to receive their Covid-19 jab.
However, speaking at a meeting of the Oireachtas Health committee, Damien McCallion, HSE's national lead for the Covid-19 vaccination programme, said supply is the biggest constraint to the programme.
“Last week alone, of the projected deliveries for the next four weeks for the four vaccines, we have 12 changes in either dates of delivery or volumes,” Mr McCallion said.
A HSE spokeswoman said a delivery of AstraZeneca vaccines scheduled for April 24 has been reduced from 45,000 doses to 9,000 doses.
A second delivery scheduled for April 30, of 165,000 doses, is now delayed, with an expected new arrival date of May 3, she added.
Excluding the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the State is expected to receive about 800,000 Covid-19 vaccines in April, 1.4m doses in May, and 1.6m doses in June. To date, more than 1.2m doses have been administered.
Asked if they could still meet the target of 80% of adults receiving at least one dose by the end of June, Mr McCallion said they “are not in a position” to answer.
“We’re working towards that [target] the best we can but it is very much led by supply. We already have a shortfall now in [AstraZeneca] which will limit some of the vaccinations we can do,” he said.
Mr McCallion said the over-70s will be “substantially completed” this week, with the remaining 5% being completed next week.
About 1,600 people who are homebound have also been inoculated through the national ambulance service, with a further 300 people due to receive their jabs over the next three weeks.
On the announcement from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) about the potential link between the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and rare blood clotting incidents, Dr Karina Butler chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac), said Niac will be examining the details of the EMA’s findings in the coming days.
Dr Butler said there would be additional information coming out later this week, which Niac hopes will provide greater clarity about specific age groups who are at risk from these clotting incidents.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the vaccination centre located at Cork City Hall commenced vaccinating people in the 65 to 69 year old cohort, administering about 880 doses.
From Wednesday, the vaccination centre at Páirc Uí Chaoimh will begin vaccinating the same cohort, and it is expected more than 8,000 vaccinations will be administered across both sites between Tuesday and Saturday.