Government defends delay of Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccine roll-out

ireland
Government Defends Delay Of Ireland’s Covid-19 Vaccine Roll-Out Government Defends Delay Of Ireland’s Covid-19 Vaccine Roll-Out
The Tánaiste and Minister for Health have defended the rate at which the Covid-19 vaccination programme will commence in Ireland.
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By Digital Desk Staff. Additional reporting by Vivienne Clarke.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has defended the rate at which the Covid-19 vaccination programme will commence in Ireland in comparison with other European countries.

Vaccinations will be slow at first but will be extended over the course of the next few months, Mr Varadkar told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

It comes as the HSE has announced it will start vaccinations on Tuesday, December 29th - a day earlier than planned - but Ireland will remain the second-last country in the EU to begin giving the shots.

Medics in 22 EU states began administering the Pfizer vaccine on Sunday as part of a co-ordinated EU plan, while Belgium, Latvia and Luxembourg will give the first shots on Monday. Only Ireland and the Netherlands have yet to take them out of cold storage.

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Mr Varadkar said the pace at which the vaccination programme will be rolled out is due to issues such as training for vaccinators and informed consent.

Medical experts had advised that the programme should commence in acute hospitals so there would be full back up if anything were to happen, following some cases of anaphylactic reaction in other countries, he said.

When asked if the issue of litigation had been a concern, Mr Varadkar said that was always the case in Ireland with “anything to do with any kind of medical care”. There had been “heightened concern” about litigation and the necessity “to make sure everything is right.”

Criticism

The HSE has said it will begin the country’s vaccine drive tomorrow instead of Wednesday after criticism from the Medical Council.

Ireland has almost 10,000 doses in cold storage, with the Medical Council saying it is "frustrating" that patients remain at risk when vaccines are "within arm’s reach".

The Minister for Health has argued that Ireland will not be “left behind” amid criticism of the roll-out speed.

Stephen Donnelly said the State will vaccinate up to 20,000 people a week from early January, the Irish Times reports.

“There’s a lot of work going on to make sure that the informed consent materials and procedures are correct, are legally robust, and to make sure the training materials are appropriate,” he said on Sunday.

The State had plans in place to roll-out tens of thousands of vaccines each week in January, he added.

We can vaccinate up to 20,000 people a week from early January

“From the first week in January we will be receiving 40,000 doses per week. That means we can vaccinate up to 20,000 people a week from early January.”

A HSE source has said that between 2,000 and 4,000 people are likely to be vaccinated this week, rising to 20,000 a week from January 4th.

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The source said between 30,000 and 40,000 people are likely to be vaccinated per week from January 11th, if adequate supplies are delivered into the country.

Ireland's vaccine roll-out programme will begin on Tuesday in one of four hospitals designated as initial sites for the administration.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee said it would prefer the first vaccines be given in healthcare settings rather than nursing homes after some reports of anaphylaxis, an allergic reaction, in the UK and United States.

The HSE said it plans to complete all nursing-home vaccinations by February 28th, covering 70,000 staff and residents.

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