Vaccination Programme

Questions (456)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

456. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Health if a centre (details supplied) will be considered for mass vaccinations. [2231/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (457, 458, 459)

Colm Burke

Question:

457. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for Health if consideration will be given to a review of the current contact tracing guidelines for schools in cases in which a pupil who tests positive for Covid-19 and the parents of the pupil are informed of same by the HSE but there is no legal obligation on the parents to advise the school (details supplied); if the current guidelines will be changed regarding this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2232/21]

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Colm Burke

Question:

458. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for Health if consideration will be given to reviewing the current waiting time in cases in which a parent with a Covid-19 positive child consents to public health sharing this information with the principal of his or her child's school, given that there is often a 16-to-24-hour time lag (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2233/21]

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Colm Burke

Question:

459. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for Health if a review will be carried out on transparency regarding Covid-19 positive pupils in a school setting (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2234/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 457 to 459, inclusive, together.

There is ongoing consideration given by the Government to policy in relation to the management of Covid-19 in school settings.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has published Guidance for Educational Settings relating to the management of Covid-19 in school settings. This guidance, which includes protocols relating to the management of close contacts, is available at https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/guidance/educationguidance/

The Deputy may wish to note that schools must have a Covid-19 Response Plan and a Covid policy in place. Up-to-date Government advice and resources for schools, parents and students in the context of COVID-19, including advice on Covid-19 planning is published at https://www.gov.ie/backtoschool.

Where a school is informed of a pupil or staff member who has tested positive for Covid-19, if the case was in the school during the infectious period, the HSE endeavour to contact school management the same day, although this may be the following day in some cases. When public health doctors make contact with the school, they will proceed to undertake a Public Health Risk Assessment (PHRA). Core to the PHRA will be assessing the likelihood of onward transmission from the case identified, and this will inform their further actions. The risk assessment applied in school settings may be dynamic and change as new information becomes available, and the testing strategy may evolve as information unfolds.

The Public Health advice remains that a confirmed case, anyone awaiting the result of a test and close contacts of confirmed cases, should restrict their movements and follow the advice provided by the HSE which is available at www.hse.ie. Restricting your movements means staying at home as much as possible to avoid contact with other people, avoiding social situations and staying at home or in your accommodation, as much as possible.

Should persons have concerns over a confirmed case not adhering to the Public Health advice to restrict movement, this can be reported to the relevant HSE Department of Public Health, who can take appropriate action under the provisions of the Health Act 1947, as amended. Contact details for the HSE's regional Departments of Public Health are available on the HSE website.

Ambulance Service

Questions (460)

David Cullinane

Question:

460. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health the spend on private ambulances, by hospital, in each month in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2235/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Respite Care Services

Questions (461)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

461. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the future of Sruthan House, Dundalk, County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2237/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Government is committed to providing services and supports for people with disabilities which will empower them to live independent lives, provide greater independence in accessing the services they choose, and enhance their ability to tailor the supports required to meet their needs and plan their lives.

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (462)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

462. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health the details of the roll-out of the vaccine to the staff in the Ireland East Hospital Group; the order in which the hospitals will be scheduled; the order in which the staff will be vaccinated by staff, discipline and dates for each hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2238/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (463)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

463. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health the position regarding the scheduled roll-out of the vaccine to the staff in St. Michael's Hospital, Dún Laoghaire in the week ending 8 January 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2239/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Vaccination Programme

Questions (464)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

464. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health the rationale for the use of a company (details supplied) in the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine; the details of the tendering process for the contract; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2240/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Animal Welfare

Questions (465, 568, 569, 570)

Neasa Hourigan

Question:

465. Deputy Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for Health if he is considering or formulating plans to outlaw animal testing; if he is considering or formulating plans to encourage and fund the use of non-animal testing technology and alternatives; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2243/21]

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Paul Murphy

Question:

568. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Health if his Department has a record of animal testing laboratories that are located in Ireland; and if so, if this information will be provided. [2597/21]

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Paul Murphy

Question:

569. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Health the funding being allocated towards finding non-animal testing methods; and if his Department is actively encouraging third level institutions to apply for such funding. [2598/21]

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Paul Murphy

Question:

570. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Health if the details of experiments will be disclosed on animals listed as having a severe level of suffering during experimentation as listed in the latest report by the Health Products Regulatory Authority. [2599/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 465 and 568 to 570, inclusive, together.

The legislation governing animals used for scientific purposes in Ireland stems from EU Directive 2010/63/EU and is among the world’s most advanced legislation concerning animal welfare. This Directive represents an important step towards achieving the final goal of full replacement of procedures on live animals for scientific and educational purposes as soon as it is scientifically possible to do so. Accordingly, and in line with the EU legislation, my Department is not considering a plan to prohibit the use of animals for scientific purposes.

The restrictions and standards set by the Directive aim to enhance animal welfare and ensure that animals are used in studies only when their use is strongly justified and following independent assessment. The Directive firmly anchors in EU Legislation the 3Rs principles, i.e. Replacement, Reduction and Refinement.

In Ireland, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) is the competent authority for the authorisation of studies using animals for scientific purposes. My Department does not maintain records of establishments. In accordance with the legislation, the HPRA authorises and inspects the establishments where studies are conducted, and therefore has records of all such establishments.

In 2019, the HPRA performed 31 inspections, of which 32% were unannounced. The HPRA was satisfied with overall levels of compliance nationally.

There are four classifications of severity of procedures in the Directive which are ‘non-recovery’, ‘mild’, ‘moderate’, or ‘severe’. Over the two-year period from 2017 to 2019, the percentage of animals reported as experiencing an actual severity of severe has reduced from 29% to 13%, which in absolute terms represents a decrease in the numbers of animals experiencing severe severity from 70,596 in 2017 to 18,550 in 2019. The reduction in the proportion of procedures reported as severe is attributed to the reduction in regulatory use of animals, as well as efforts made by the HPRA, animal welfare bodies, and animal users, to reduce the severity of procedures through the implementation of refinements and earlier humane endpoints.

In accordance with the requirements of the Directive and national legislation, the details of all projects are publicly available in the non-technical project summary reports on the HPRA website. Annual statistical reports are also available on the HPRA website (http://www.hpra.ie/homepage/veterinary/scientific-animal-protection/statistical-reporting).

My Department provides funding to the Health Research Board (HRB). The HRB has advised that out of a total of 725 HRB funded applications since 2016, less than 1% include animal work. The HRB has significantly reduced the amount of funding for animal research over the years by limiting eligibility for animal research only to specific cases.

In addition, the HRB expect researchers to adhere to the general principles and best practice outlined in the guidance provided by the Health Products Regulatory Authority. The HRB has also worked with Science Europe and other like-minded funders and stakeholders across Europe to reaffirm its commitment to ensuring responsible research involving animals.

Medical Aids and Appliances

Questions Nos. 467 and 468 answered with Question No. 448.

Questions (466)

David Cullinane

Question:

466. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health if the HSE has exact restrictions on speed limits for powered wheelchairs that it provides or reimburses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2246/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Questions Nos. 467 and 468 answered with Question No. 448.

Vaccination Programme

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/.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (470)

Neale Richmond

Question:

470. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Health the measures in place to restrict and control travel from the UK and South Africa to prevent further spread of the Covid-19 strains found there; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2253/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Passengers arriving to Ireland from overseas are required to complete a COVID-19 Passenger Locator Form and to present evidence of a negative PCR test. The contact information from the locator form can be used to distribute targeted public health information via SMS.

Public health advice for arrivals from Great Britain, South Africa and Brazil is to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival and to contact a GP to arrange a COVID-19 test. The test will be free of charge. The test will help to identify positive cases and for those to be sent to the NVRL for genome sequencing to see if any variants of concern are identified in Ireland. Regardless of the result of the test, people who have recently travelled from these countries should self-isolate for the full 14 days.

Passengers who have travelled from these countries have been sent SMS messages in order to bring this advice to their attention. In the case of passengers travelling from Brazil, the messages were sent in both English and Brazilian Portuguese.

The Government continues to give close consideration to potential travel policy and restrictions to limit the spread of these new COVID-19 variants to Ireland.