I thank Deputy Cullinane for his question. As we all know, the Minister for Health has been feeling unwell, has been referred for a Covid-19 test and is self-isolating. We all wish him well.
I will endeavour to answer the questions posed as fully as possible. If any of my answers are insufficient, written answers can also be provided. In reply to the Deputy's very important question, resuming health and social care services and building health sector capacity and capability is a priority for the Government. The coming winter is expected to be particularly challenging due to the presence of Covid-19 and the uncertainty around the level of Covid and non-Covid health care demands. Every winter is challenging but there is no doubt that with Covid-19 this winter is going to be particularly difficult. The HSE is finalising a plan, in line with Sláintecare principles, for delivering services in a Covid pandemic for the period to December 2021 and incorporating winter 2020-21. The initiatives in the plan to mitigate the winter pressures are under three headings, namely, community care, acute care and assistance to support hospital egress. Timely discharge from acute hospital settings is hugely important. Throughflow in hospitals is vitally important so that there will be capacity at the emergency department end. This will include increasing hospital and community capacity, reducing unnecessary hospital admissions by enhancing alternative community care pathways, and enabling timely discharges from acute hospitals, and consequently reduce waiting times in hospital emergency departments. There will be a focus on targeted actions to shift care to home and ambulatory care environments, especially for high-risk cohorts such as elderly patients and those with chronic illnesses.
As the Deputy knows, the pandemic has borne down hardest on our older generation. I have for many years been an advocate for the correct wrap-around supports for our elderly generation living at home, which is what this plan hopes to achieve. Obviously, older people are not in a position to go to day care centres or to be out and about, so they need the supports, rehab and re-ablement at home. Disability and mental health services, e-health and staffing will also be included in the plan.
The resources for the plan will be sought as part of the 2021 Estimates process. In advance of this, the Government has allocated €600 million to support the early roll-out of the winter-specific measures in this plan, with €200 million up to Christmas and €400 million thereafter. This will facilitate the commencement of priority measures from an operational perspective.
A key action will be a comprehensive flu vaccination programme. The HSE has placed orders for approximately 1.35 million doses of the quadrivalent influenza vaccine, as well as 600,000 doses of the live attenuated influenza vaccine, which will be made available to children aged from two to 12 years old, inclusive.
In regard to acute bed capacity, the programme for Government, Our Shared Future, commits to continuing investment in our health care services in line with the recommendations of the health service capacity review and the commitments in Project Ireland 2040. The Minister's Department is working with the HSE to increase both general and critical care acute capacity in hospitals nationwide.
It is very important, as we face into the winter, that we are very conscious of the most vulnerable in our society. We are talking about people with mental health issues, the elderly and people with disabilities, especially those with acute disabilities. I would also like to mention carers, given I hosted a round-table for carers this afternoon. Carers have been to the fore in the past six months, during which they had to cocoon at home with their loved one.