Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (469, 497, 524, 618)

Robert Troy

Question:

469. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Health the position on the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines for the coming months in light of recent announcements. [2250/21]

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Patricia Ryan

Question:

497. Deputy Patricia Ryan asked the Minister for Health his plans to ensure that all persons who want to avail of the Covid-19 vaccine can do so; when the roll-out to the general population will commence; the position regarding the ability of the HSE to deliver 70% population cover; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2351/21]

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Seán Canney

Question:

524. Deputy Seán Canney asked the Minister for Health if he will issue a full programme showing the number of persons who will receive the Covid-19 vaccine each month in 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2443/21]

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Gerald Nash

Question:

618. Deputy Ged Nash asked the Minister for Health his views on whether the national Covid-19 vaccination programme has sufficient flexibility to allow for the fast-tracked vaccination of vulnerable nursing home residents, staff and others in areas with very high rates of infection such as County Louth; if this approach is under consideration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2705/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 469, 497, 524 and 618 together.

The Government is committed to the timely implementation of a COVID-19 immunisation programme.

The National COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy, which was prepared by the High-Level Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccination, was signed off by Cabinet on 15 December 2020.

The vaccines will be rolled out in three phases - the initial roll out, a mass ramp-up and open access. The highest priority groups, those over the age of 65 living in long-term care facilities and frontline healthcare workers in direct patient contact, will receive the vaccine first.

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. This is wholly dependent on supply lines and on candidate vaccines obtaining approval. Therefore, it is not possible at this time to determine a timeframe for the full vaccination programme.

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

Further information on the Allocation Strategy can be found at:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/39038-provisional-vaccine-allocation-groups/.