A Government TD has said Ireland faces an “indefinite lockdown” unless the State can secure more doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
Marc MacSharry has urged his Government colleagues to break with the European Union’s purchase system and to try obtain more doses directly from the companies involved.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said the Government intends to offer all citizens in Ireland a vaccine by September.
However, his Fianna Fáil party colleague Mr MacSharry does not believe the goal can be achieved with the current number of doses expected.
“I want us to do the old-fashioned — lift the phone, secure supplies, and if they want €70 a dose, give it to them,” Mr MacSharry said.
“Otherwise, you’re looking forward to a fourth wave, an indefinite lockdown, and that is no good to any of us.”
The Republic has now administered 121,900 jabs of a Covid-19 vaccine, equating to 2.5 per cent of the population.
European Union leaders are meeting by video conference on Thursday to discuss a target of vaccinating 70 per cent of the bloc’s population by the summer.
The HSE's chief Paul Reid told a weekly briefing that the country's vaccination programme provided a roadmap for getting out of the pandemic.
However, he criticised some hospitals who had administered leftover vaccines to people other than their employees.
“There has been much reporting this week of a smaller number of incidents and cases where some people have been vaccinated in a manner or certainly in a sequence that didn’t comply with the agreed sequencing,” Mr Reid said.
“I want to be very clear — this shouldn’t have happened, and nobody could have been confused or needed further clarity in terms of the agreed sequencing for the vaccines.”
Meanwhile, the Tánaiste has said that Ireland is “nowhere near where we need to be at present” to consider easing Level 5 restrictions.
Leo Varadkar told the Dáil that the numbers surrounding Covid-19 were too high to consider lifting restrictions in the short-term, but that did not mean schools could not reopen in February.