Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (488, 498, 542, 589, 601, 606)

Michael McNamara

Question:

488. Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Health if teachers will be included in group 6 in the vaccination programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2309/21]

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Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

498. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health if port workers who are considered front-line workers should receive the Covid-19 vaccine in the initial phases of the roll-out to ensure that ports remain operational; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2365/21]

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Niamh Smyth

Question:

542. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health if he will review correspondence about the vaccine roll-out for childcare workers (details supplied); if he will provide clarity on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2507/21]

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Neale Richmond

Question:

589. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Health if funeral cemetery workers are classified as key workers under the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out plan and as such fall into the sixth category on the vaccine allocation groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2638/21]

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Holly Cairns

Question:

601. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health when vaccines for special education service users and service providers will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2673/21]

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Robert Troy

Question:

606. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health if he will include special education staff in line with healthcare workers for prioritised vaccination. [2686/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 488, 498, 542, 589, 601 and 606 together.

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.

The key workers referred to in Group 6 are those providing services essential to the vaccination programme.

Question No. 489 answered with Question No. 448.