Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccination programme is likely to miss its target of inoculating 700,000 people by the end of March, the Dail has heard.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said the “indicative target” was heavily caveated and dependant on vaccine supplies from AstraZeneca.
Mr Donnelly said it is “very frustrating” that AstraZeneca may not be delivering the full amount anticipated by Government.
Minister for Health’s spoofing offers no clarity on vaccine rollout – @davidcullinane
“We are not asking the Minister to magic up doses of the vaccine, but we need him to be honest. If commitments need to be revised, he needs to be upfront about this.”https://t.co/HjSM3Cc4e8 pic.twitter.com/gZttleA9HG
— Sinn Féin (@sinnfeinireland) January 28, 2021
As part of the deal with the pharmaceuticals giant, Ireland was due to receive 600,000 coronavirus vaccines in the coming weeks.
However, Mr Donnelly said negotiations are under way to establish what the new supply chain will include.
The interruption to supply will likely affect the domestic vaccine rollout and the Government’s targets for the months ahead.
Mr Donnelly said that 3 per cent of the population has been vaccinated by Sunday past, including 66,000 in nursing homes and 77,000 healthcare workers.
He said that second doses of the vaccine are being administered this week.
However, Sinn Fein’s David Cullinane accused the Health Minister of failing to provide revised timeframes or targets for Ireland’s vaccination programme.
“Minister, I have to say that your opening statement here today falls far short of what was needed,” he added.
“It pains me to say this, it is very difficult to retain confidence in the rollout of the vaccine programme when we are not getting the information that we should be getting from the Minister for Health.
“You had 10 minutes to set a very clear strategy of providing clarity and certainty to people, and you haven’t done so.
“You didn’t use the opportunity today to give us the information that we need.
“I have to say to you minister that this is not a time for spoofing.
“This is a time for absolute clarity and certainty, and to give assurances and reassurances to the public in relation to the rollout of the vaccine.”
Mr Donnelly told the Dail: “Right now they (AstraZeneca) are not committing to that 600,000 – we’re in negotiations to see what we can get.
“So obviously, the 700,000 is contingent on the supply that comes in and that that is still under negotiation.”
Mr Donnelly told Labour lead Alan Kelly that approximately 40,000 vaccines arrived in Ireland this week.
Mr Kelly was critical of the the Government’s failure to provide a daily break down of the amount of frontline healthcare workers who have been vaccinated.
Mr Kelly added: “What sort of an organisation would not know who they vaccinate?
“That information has to be provided, otherwise we have bigger problems.
“It doesn’t make any sense that we don’t know in UHL (University Hospital Limerick) or at the Coombe (hospital), or any other hospital in this country how many Covid-facing frontline workers have been vaccinated.
“It’s really worrying that you cannot provide those statistics.”
Mr Donnelly also clarified that he expects all adult residents to be offered a vaccine by September based on current delivery schedules, but warned it is conditional on the supply chain and vaccines being authorised.