Thursday, 11 February 2021

Questions (290)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

290. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the extent of the provision made for the various categories of patient awaiting Covid-19 vaccination; if the vaccination process will be rolled out on time and in sufficient numbers to make a serious impact on the spread of the virus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7734/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

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 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.

The next group to be vaccinated are those aged 70 and older in the following order: 85 and older, 80-84, 75-79, and 70-74. Vaccination of this group will begin this month.

Patients 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. 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/.

Further information on the COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy and Implementation Plan can be found at:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/bf337-covid-19-vaccination-strategy-and-implementation-plan/