Tánaiste's comments on June jab appointments 'very ambitious', says Donnelly

Leo Varadkar claimed that every adult who wants a Covid-19 vaccine could be offered one by the end of June
Tánaiste's comments on June jab appointments 'very ambitious', says Donnelly

The Health Minister said that the latest analysis of figures suggested that everyone would have been vaccinated by September. Picture: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has described Tánaiste Leo Varadkar’s claim that everyone who wants a Covid-19 vaccine would be offered one by June as  "very ambitious."

Speaking on Newstalk this morning, the Minister said that he hoped the Government could "deliver on that."

Leo Varadkar made the claim at the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting last night, also informing TDs and senators that pandemic supports would remain in place for the foreseeable future.

Mr Varadkar told his party that it "may be possible" to offer every adult who wants a vaccine their first dose by the end of next month, but said that it was too soon to be certain.

He said he hoped people aged in their 40s will be offered vaccine appointments by the the end of the month.

But this would be dependent on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine being approved for use in people under the age of 50.

Mr Varadkar said that on shifts where he has been volunteering as a vaccinator, he would be able to do twice as many vaccinations if the supply was there, which means that as supply grows, the country could feasibly do 350,000 vaccines a week.

The Tánaiste said he is “increasingly confident” Ireland can administer between 300,000 and 400,000 Covid vaccine doses per week in the future.

This morning, Mr Donnelly said that if the vaccines that have been ordered were delivered on time, four out of every five people who were entitled to the vaccine would be vaccinated by June.

He said that the latest analysis of figures suggested that everyone would have been vaccinated by September. 

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar made the claim at a Fine Gael parliamentary meeting on Wednesday. Picture: PA
Tanaiste Leo Varadkar made the claim at a Fine Gael parliamentary meeting on Wednesday. Picture: PA

When asked about vaccine hesitancy, Mr Donnelly said that the most recent research indicated that 70 percent of people would 'definitely' take the vaccine and 16 percent 'probably would', which was an acceptable level of 86 percent. 

He said that, by international standards, this was a "very strong" uptake. 

Mr Donnelly said he anticipated "a considered view" from the National Immunisation Advisory Council (Niac) shortly on what levels of protection will be offered after vaccination from the various types to qualify for the European travel certificate. 

This could be in place by late June or July, he said.

As of Monday, 1.8m Covid vaccine doses had been administered in Ireland, with more than 35% of the population aged 16 years and older having had at least one dose.

According to the latest vaccine data, 1,882,635 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in Ireland to May 10 — 1,376,583 people have received their first dose while 506,052 have received their second.

Meanwhile, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said it is too early to say when a third vaccine dose or booster dose might be required.

At a press conference, EMA head of biological health threats and vaccines strategy, Marco Cavaleri, said more data and "real-world" evidence was needed.

"Only this type of evidence will give us the data that we need to have a good understanding of when would be the right time to give a third dose," he said, adding it could be a booster dose of existing vaccines or one developed for variant Covid strains.

"It’s very premature to say that and we have to be careful not to jump to conclusions in respect to the timing of when a booster should be given,” he added.

The EMA also confirmed it was reviewing an application to extend the use of the Pfizer vaccine to children aged 12 to 15 and a decision is expected by the end of May.

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