Covid-19 vaccination programme in Ireland to be 'accelerated'

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Covid-19 vaccination programme in Ireland to be 'accelerated'

The Covid-19 vaccination programme in Ireland to be 'accelerated' in the coming weeks. 

The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, TD has this evening announced the acceleration of the country’s vaccination programme.

By the end of this week, the plan is to have given over 40,000 vaccines to frontline healthcare workers and nursing home staff and residents. According to the Minister, this plan is 'on target'.

“We’re now going to accelerate our plan for residents and staff in long term residential care facilities – this means nursing homes as well as mental health and disability residential centres," the Minister said. 

“We had planned to vaccinate all 75,000 residents and staff with the first dose of the vaccine by the end of January. We’re now accelerating this plan to finish earlier, meaning that the first dose will be given to all residents and staff in the next two weeks.

“We’re mobilising 65 vaccination teams including hospital vaccinators, community vaccinators, school vaccinators and the National Ambulance Service. Vaccinations will take place seven days a week.”

The Minister said that the Government has decided to use some of the one week buffer as the supply of vaccines has been constant and they received solid reassurance from Pfizer that this will continue to be the case.

“Speed is of the essence and this is especially true for the most vulnerable people in our society,” he added.

The Minister also noted today’s announcement by the European Commission in relation to additional doses of Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine under the Advance Purchase Agreement negotiated on behalf of Member States.

Minister Donnelly commented: “Today’s news is good for Europe and I look forward to reviewing the options which will be made available to Ireland. No decisions have been taken as to the allocation of additional dosages to Member States at this stage.”

Separately the  Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD has, this evening, welcomed the agreement between 16 private hospitals and the HSE to provide additional hospital capacity to HSE, to deal with the surge in Covid-19 cases and any further surges in the pandemic, if they arise within the next 12 months. 

Minister Donnelly said, “I am delighted that this agreement has been reached and note that the HSE was still in ongoing constructive engagement with the one remaining private hospital, which is already providing service to the public system.”

Under the agreement, the hospitals have agreed to supply, depending on the incidence of the disease, up to 30 per cent of their capacity. The agreement also provides for additional capacity to be made available by mutual agreement and a number of hospitals have already indicated that they might be willing to offer such capacity if required.