HSE 'not in a position' to confirm Ireland will meet goal of June vaccination goal

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Hse 'Not In A Position' To Confirm Ireland Will Meet Goal Of June Vaccination Goal
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James Ward and Cate McCurry, PA

The HSE is “not in a position” to confirm if Ireland will reach its target of vaccinating 80 per cent of adults by June, the Oireachtas Health Committee has heard.

The country also does not have the vaccine supply to hit its target of administering 250,000 jabs a week.

The Minister for Health and public health chiefs had hoped to hit the target by April but at present between 140,000 and 160,000 jabs are being administered weekly.

The committee heard there have been 12 changes to either dates of delivery or volumes in the past week, including changes to the AstraZeneca supply in the last 48 hours which will “reduce capacity” over the coming weeks.

 

Damien McCallion, the HSE national director responsible for the vaccine rollout, said he was “not in a position at the moment” to confirm if the June target would be achieved.

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This is primarily because of issues with supply, he said, adding: “There’s a very immediate effect of that into the next couple of weeks.”

He said the capacity to reach 250,000 jabs a week is in place through hospitals, vaccination centres and pharmacists, but supply levels are preventing that from happening.

He told the committee on Tuesday: “We will get to those figures. We will need to get to those figures.

“But I’m just saying that at the moment, our constraint really is we do not have the supply that would allow us to test the system we were hoping to get there.

“We were hoping to get to the door with a 200,000 mark in the coming weeks, but we just will not have the supply to achieve that at the moment.”

Mr McCallion said that for the month of April, the HSE is expecting to receive 800,000 vaccines.

Around 1.4 million are expected in May, and 1.6 million in June.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine (Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies/PA)

The figures do not include the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine, of which Ireland is to receive more than 600,000 doses by the end of June.

The J&J jab was reviewed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Tuesday after fears over rare instances of blood clotting saw the manufacturer pause its supplies to Europe.

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The EMA found that the benefits of the jab outweigh the risks.

Professor Karina Butler, chairwoman of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac), said the EMA’s findings will be reviewed over the coming days.

Earlier a European commissioner said Ireland will receive enough vaccines to fully inoculate 70 per cent of the adult population by mid-July.

Internal market commissioner Thierry Breton said the EU is on target to supply Ireland with almost six million doses by July.

Mr Breton, who heads a European taskforce on the industrial scale-up of Covid-19 vaccines, said the rollout will also depend on Ireland’s ability to organise mass vaccinations.

He told the Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs that by the end of the year, the EU will have an annual production capacity of more than three billion doses.

He said no country could produce the vaccines alone, adding that “solidarity” was the only way to avoid vaccine nationalism.

“I am confident that by mid-July, we will have produced enough doses to fully vaccinate 70 per cent of the adult population, which is something that is extremely important,” he added.

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Around 1.3 million doses were delivered to Ireland in the first quarter of the year.

Ireland is on track to receive more than four million over the coming months.

Mr Breton said this is set to increase to six million by mid-July.

“This includes some doses coming from Janssen, which is only a one-shot vaccine. This is why we are confident we will be able to deliver enough doses.

“It will depend on the ability of the countries to organise mass vaccinations in order to reach the 70 per cent of adult population by mid-July.”

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