Varadkar unsure of Government’s June vaccine goal

ireland
Varadkar Unsure Of Government’s June Vaccine Goal
Taoiseach Micheal Martin (left) alongside Tanaiste Leo Varadkar at Government Buildings in Dublin, © PA Media
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By Michelle Devane and James Ward, PA

The Government’s target of vaccinating 82 per cent of adults with a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine by the end of June can still be met but may be hindered by a lack of supply, the Tánaiste has warned.

Leo Varadkar told the Fine Gael parliamentary party last night that people not taking up the vaccine as case numbers drop could also prevent the goal being reached.

His comments came after the Taoiseach told the Dáil that the Government’s goal of vaccinating 80 per cent of adults by June still stood.

Mr Varadkar, the Fine Gael leader, said at least 80 per cent of the population needs to be fully vaccinated before next winter.

The Fine Gael meeting also reportedly heard strong criticism of Health Minister Stephen Donnelly for his handling of several issues, including the vaccine roll-out, with Mr Varadkar asked to discuss it with the Taoiseach.

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Party colleagues also heard there should be a Dáil debate on digital green certs to assist international travel when safe to do so.

Micheál Martin's assertion that the Government’s June vaccine goal still stood came after the HSE’s national director responsible for the vaccine rollout told the Oireachtas Health Committee he was “not in a position” to confirm if the target would be reached.

Issues with supplies have created numerous setbacks for the vaccination programme, with news on Tuesday that a delivery of AstraZeneca jabs this week had fallen from an expected 45,000 to just 9,000.

Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday, Mr Martin highlighted the challenges presented by decisions taken by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) around the safety of the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Niac has advised that the AstraZeneca jab should only be given to people over 60, and will meet this week to discuss use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after an EMA review over rare blood clotting concerns found the benefits outweigh the risks.

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Approximately 14,400 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine delivered last week must wait until guidance is issued by Niac.

The Government has signalled that a further easing of restrictions will proceed in May, with hairdressers, non-essential retail and religious services prioritised.

Wednesday saw 15 additional deaths related to Covid-19 in Ireland, as well as 401 new cases of the virus.

The country’s five-day moving average of cases now stands at 376, while the national 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 population is now 113.4.

The latest figures show 179 people with the disease in hospital, 47 of whom were in ICU.

The latest HSE figures show as of April 16th, a total of 1,488,510 vaccines doses had arrived in Ireland.

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They comprise 1,009,710 Pfizer doses, 109,200 Moderna doses, 355,200 of AstraZeneca and 14,400 Janssen doses.

As of April 19th, a total of 1,219,487 doses of Covid-19 vaccine had been administered.

Some 863,958 people have received their first dose, while 355,529 people have received two doses.

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