Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (505)

Holly Cairns

Question:

505. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health if persons living in direct provision camps are included in the category 9, people aged 18-64 living or working in crowded settings of the provisional vaccine allocated groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2390/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Strategy sets out a provisional list of groups for vaccination. The Strategy was developed by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and my Department, endorsed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), and approved by Government on 8 December 2020.

Vaccine allocation is a matter for my Department and further information is available here: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/39038-provisional-vaccine-allocation-groups/.

The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is the responsibility of the HSE.

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.

The evidence will be kept under review and the allocation groups may be updated, where necessary, in light of new evidence.

Those living in direct provision will be vaccinated in group 9 of the Provisional Vaccine Allocation Groups, i.e., Aged 18-64 years living or working in crowded accommodation where self-isolation and social distancing is difficult to maintain.

However, it is important to note that a person living in direct provision could be vaccinated in an earlier group due to their age or their age and the presence of a specified medical condition.