Stephen Donnelly: Covid vaccine rollout is not a race to ‘31st of June’

ireland
Stephen Donnelly: Covid Vaccine Rollout Is Not A Race To ‘31St Of June’
Stephen Donnelly said that the vaccine rollout had changed numerous times since its inception, but was still on track to hit the target set out by the Taoiseach last January. Photo: PA Images
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Vivienne Clarke

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said that the State’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout is not a race to the “31st of June”.

With just 30 days in the month of June, the Minister’s gaffe is now trending on social media in Ireland.

Mr Donnelly told Newstalk Breakfast that there was “nothing magic” about the date of June 31st.

“There's no magic about the end of June. On the first of July, we'll still be vaccinating tens of thousands of people,” he added.

As a person in his forties, the Minister said he expected to be vaccinated in June.

Ireland is still on track to give or offer a first dose of Covid-19 vaccination to over 80 per cent of the population by the end of June, Mr Donnelly said.

Mr Donnelly said he could not speculate on specific dates for vaccination for specific age cohorts as it was all dependent on supplies.

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As the Irish Examiner reports, the Minister said that the vaccine rollout had changed numerous times since its inception, but was still on track to hit the target set out by the Taoiseach last January.

There were already 14,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the country with a further 12,000 due to arrive today. The Minister said he anticipated that 600,000 doses would arrive between April and the end of June.

Mr Donnelly said that yesterday's NIAC advice — that the Johnson & Johnson and Astrazeneca vaccines be used for over 50s — was “good news” and ensured that Ireland could meet its target.

NIAC was examining evidence from around the world all the time, he said. As new evidence emerged, it was possible that they could say soon that the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines could be used for the over-40s.

Vaccine stock

Mr Donnelly said that “the plan right now is to get the vaccines out and available to people as quickly as they come into the country.”

The Health Minister said that there was “more than enough” vaccine stock to vaccinate those cohorts who are now eligible to receive their vaccination.

On inter-county travel, Mr Donnelly said it would “not be helpful” for him to speculate on when it might be possible. He said that he understood the public's desire to book holidays, but said that specifics could not yet be given.

“I think most people would say let's get out of this, but do it in a sustainable way, which keeps the curve flat.”

Mr Donnelly said the “impact data” for vaccinated cohorts was “amazing”.

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