I propose to take Questions Nos. 276 and 277 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 the Department of Health, endorsed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), and approved by Government on 8 December 2020.
Vaccine allocation is a matter for the Department of Health 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 years 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 start in the week beginning 15 of February.
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.