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Ireland to receive 46,500 additional Pfizer doses this month, Taoiseach confirms

“When they get here, they will be administered quickly,” the Taoiseach said.

Updated Mar 10th 2021, 11:12 AM

IRELAND IS TO receive an additional 46,500 Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine doses in March under the EU procurement framework, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has confirmed.

The Taoiseach said today that he has received confirmation from EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that Ireland will secure the additional doses before the end of March. 

It comes as the EU Commission confirmed this morning that the bloc had secured an additional four million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be distributed across EU states over the next two weeks. 

“When they get here, they will be administered quickly,” the Taoiseach said. “Efforts ongoing to increase production.”

HSE CEO Paul Reid said this morning that Ireland is seeing “great signs of impact” from vaccination with serial testing in nursing homes yielding a positivity rate of just 0.2%. 

However, Ireland is unlikely to meet its Q1 target of 1.2 million doses due to supply shortfalls amid calls to approach other countries to negotiate vaccine deals. 

The operating plan for administering vaccines in Ireland has already changed 15-17 times due to constraints with supply and changes to sequencing and prioritisation, the HSE CEO said.

Reid told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health yesterday that the health service’s experience with vaccine supply in the first three months of this year has been characterised by “high levels of frustration”.  

Speaking on RTÉ’s Six One News, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the vaccination programme “hasn’t all been flawless”, but that it is “having an amazing effect” within certain groups. 

He said there has been a 95% reduction in infections among hospital staff and latest positivity rates for nursing home serial testing are at 0.2%. 

“95% of the vaccines that are coming into the country are being administered to the priority groups within seven days,” Donnelly said. 

“It’s not all perfect it hasn’t all been flawless, but I think great credit goes to thousands of women and men right across Ireland, who are making that possible.”

Reid said yesterday that the supply of AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines had proven “unstable” to date and that previous targets of as many as 1.7 million vaccine doses supplied by the end of March were now not possible. Another target of 1.24 million vaccine doses may also not now be reached.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil MEP Billy Kelleher has said EU vaccine supplies should be prioritised for countries that are carrying out their vaccination programmes “swiftly and efficiently”. 

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“When Ireland receives its vaccines, they are administered very quickly. There are no supplies sitting in freezers, which is sadly the case in a number of larger Member States,” said Kelleher. 

“There are moves afoot at Member State level to change the distribution plan for vaccines to reflect efficiency and also emergency health situations.

ff 045 MEP Billy Kelleher Source: RollingNews.ie

“If Ireland is waiting for vaccines to be delivered, and say Belgium has 300,000 in stock, it makes more sense to give the next delivery of vaccines to Ireland as they will be used. Of course, every country must get their fair share, but it should also depend on their ability to make use of their supplies.”

I’ve written to the Taoiseach and the Minister for Health urging them to ensure that Ireland supports these proposals at European Council level. It’s a common sense approach that focused on getting vaccinations into the arms of Irish people as quickly as possible.

A Government spokesperson confirmed that government officials have been in touch with other EU countries, as well as pharmaceutical companies abroad and at home, about securing extra supplies. 

He confirmed that Irish officials have had discussions with Germany, Latvia, Denmark as well as the UK on securing additional supplies, however, each country have said as of now there are no spare doses. 

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