I propose to take Questions Nos. 484, 486, 517, 522 and 525 together.
The Government is committed to the timely implementation of a COVID-19 immunisation programme. In this regard a High-Level Taskforce was established to support and oversee the development and implementation of the programme.
The Taskforce membership is made up of senior personnel from my Department, the Health Service Executive, the Health Products Regulatory Authority, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer, the Office of Government Procurement, IDA Ireland, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Department of the Taoiseach, as well as expertise in the areas of public health, supply chain logistics, cold chain logistics, and programme management. The Defence Forces are also represented.
The aim of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is to ensure, over time, that vaccine will become available to vaccinate all of those for whom the vaccine is indicated. Given that there will be initially limited vaccines available, it will take some time for all to receive those vaccines and that has necessitated an allocation strategy to ensure that those most at risk of death and serious illness receive the vaccine first.
The priority is to first vaccinate and protect directly the most vulnerable amongst us, that is, those most likely to have a poor outcome if they contract the virus. The priority is to directly use vaccines to save lives and reduce serious illness, hence the focus on the over 65 year old cohort in long term residential care facilities, and healthcare workers in frontline services often caring for the most vulnerable.
All of the groups will be covered as further vaccine supplies become available and the immunisation programme is rolled out nationally.
Over time there will be enough vaccine available to vaccinate all those who want it. We are planning to vaccinate as many people within our population, with approved vaccines, as quickly, safely, and effectively as possible.
Training is now available to all relevant staff and being completed on a daily rolling basis to build up the number of vaccinators. Over 4,000 staff have received training to operate as vaccinators, and workforce planning for vaccinators to enable scale-up is currently underway. Pharmacists, GPs, doctors, nurses, paramedics, and many healthcare professionals, will have a role to play in the vaccination programme.