Thursday, 21 January 2021

Questions (330, 332, 333, 334, 353, 354, 356, 363, 381)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

330. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Health if he will report on the vaccination strategy for healthcare workers; the priority for management levels, front-line healthcare workers and ancillary staff in healthcare settings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3016/21]

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Joan Collins

Question:

332. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Health if family carers are categorised as front-line health workers (details supplied). [3027/21]

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Seán Crowe

Question:

333. Deputy Seán Crowe asked the Minister for Health if consideration has been given to adding full-time carers to the vaccination schedule; and the reason for their initial exclusion given the vulnerable persons who rely on them. [3034/21]

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Jackie Cahill

Question:

334. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Health if carers and family carers will be prioritised in the Covid-19 vaccination roll-out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3038/21]

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Paul Murphy

Question:

353. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Health if he will consider including the parents and carers of persons with particular underlying conditions (details supplied) who are especially vulnerable to Covid-19 and any person in receipt of family, carer’s allowance or benefit in the Covid-19 vaccination category of front-line healthcare workers given their essential role in the care of particularly vulnerable persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3067/21]

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Neasa Hourigan

Question:

354. Deputy Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for Health his plans to include family carers as a priority group for vaccination against Covid-19; the timeline for which family carers will be vaccinated against Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3069/21]

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Kathleen Funchion

Question:

356. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Health if he will consider prioritising family carers on the vaccine priority list. [3081/21]

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Michael Ring

Question:

363. Deputy Michael Ring asked the Minister for Health if a sector (details supplied) will be prioritised in the strategy for Covid-19 vaccines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3114/21]

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Holly Cairns

Question:

381. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health his views on prioritising families caring for vulnerable and medically at-risk children for the Covid-19 vaccination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3178/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 330, 332 to 334, inclusive, 353, 354, 356, 363 and 381 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.

Frontline healthcare workers (HCWs) in direct patient contact roles will be vaccinated in Group 2. This includes HCWs working in public, private, and voluntary settings. Other HCWs, not in direct patient contact, will be vaccinated in Group 4.

Family carers are a diverse group, 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.