Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (511, 518, 607, 616, 617)

Pa Daly

Question:

511. Deputy Pa Daly asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the prioritisation of vulnerable adults with certain medical conditions, for example, Down's syndrome or cystic fibrosis, as priority No. 7 on the vaccine roll-out plan; if there will be an opportunity for these adults be reprioritised under any circumstance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2414/21]

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Neasa Hourigan

Question:

518. Deputy Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for Health his plans to provide for the provision of the Covid-19 vaccine to persons with disabilities who are under 65 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2433/21]

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Paul McAuliffe

Question:

607. Deputy Paul McAuliffe asked the Minister for Health if consideration will be given to reprioritising persons with Down's syndrome in the vaccination strategy and implementation plan, given their lower life expectancy, in particular persons in care homes aged 40 years of age plus. [2687/21]

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Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

616. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Health the position persons with disabilities are placed in the scheduled roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccination programme. [2702/21]

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Gerald Nash

Question:

617. Deputy Ged Nash asked the Minister for Health when the intellectual disability sector will be scheduled for Covid-19 vaccination; the timeline for the vaccination of residents and staff in institutional congregated settings in the community; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2704/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 511, 518, 607, 616 and 617 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 doses 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.

It is important to note that people with a disability are not a homogenous group and, therefore, each individual will be vaccinated in the group that is appropriate to them.

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.