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Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly Julien Behal Photography
vaccine roll out

Donnelly says Ireland can expect 1.1 million vaccine doses by end of March

A HSE public information campaign will be rolled out as the next cohort in line for vaccination are people aged 85 and over.

LAST UPDATE | Jan 29th 2021, 9:44 PM

MINISTER FOR HEALTH Stephen Donnelly has said that Ireland expects to have received 1.1 million doses of the three approved Covid-19 vaccines before the end of March. 

In a statement this evening, he said that the first doses of the newly-approved Astrazeneca vaccine are expected to arrive on the week beginning 8 February. 

The minister also said that a public information campaign to inform people aged 85 and over – next in line to receive a vaccine – of the process involved will begin in the coming days.

The completion of vaccinations in the first two cohorts – residents in long-term care settings and frontline healthcare workers – is expected in the coming weeks. 

“Receiving supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine, alongside the two other previously approved vaccines, will allow us to begin the programme with Cohort 3 – those over the age of 70, beginning with those aged over 85 years,” Donnelly said. 

A statement from the minister said that the supply would allow the rollout of vaccination to over 70s to begin this quarter. But it is unlikely this cohort would be completed by the end of March. 

There are an estimated 496,000 people within this cohorot of those aged 70 and over. 

A HSE public information campaign will begin this weekend across radio, print and television. 

“Ireland is also part of the European contract for two further vaccines in development, and an option on a third vaccine subject to trial data. Negotiations continue at the European level with other suppliers. Over time, it is hoped supply lines will become more robust and established,” the minister added.

“We appreciate the high demand for this vaccine in Ireland, and the frustration of supply constraints in these early stages of the programme. We will continue to adjust the programme in accordance with supply and the prioritisation and allocation strategy. The roll out to people aged over 70 will begin in February and every effort is being made to deliver this programme as rapidly, and safely, as possible.”

Moderna supply

Earlier, the Health Service Executive (HSE) says it expects deliveries of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine to be cut in February as several European countries announce shortfalls in the company’s shipments.

It emerged in recent days that the US drugmaker’s vaccine deliveries to Italy, France and Switzerland would be lower than expected.

The HSE has said it expects Ireland to also be impacted by the reductions and it is engaging with the manufacturer to understand the scale of the cutbacks.

“While we can plan for different scenarios with regard to vaccine volumes and deliveries, we cannot provide certainty at this time. The projected volumes and deliveries of vaccines remain subject to change,” the HSE said in a statement.

“Notice for delivery can be short, so we must be in a position to respond quickly. This underlines the fluidity of the process of rolling out vaccines against evolving information, in a constantly changing landscape,” it added.

The HSE said it does not expect any reduction in a delivery scheduled for 31 January, which remains at 6,000 doses.

A total of 32,760 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were received in Ireland this week. No other deliveries were scheduled.

French officials said yesterday that they expect 25% fewer doses of the Moderna vaccine while Canada said it would receive 78% of the doses it had expected in a shipment next week.

The reduced deliveries come as the European Union remains embroiled in a row with AstraZeneca over deliveries. Pfizer also said it needed to slow production in order to increase output in the long term.

With reporting by Michelle Hennessy, Sean Murray

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