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Dublin: 5°C Thursday 25 February 2021

Every resident in Ireland will be offered the vaccine before September, says health minister

Carers and dentists are to be added to cohort 2 in the vaccine plan.

EVERY RESIDENT IN Ireland will be offered a vaccine before September, as long as all expected vaccine candidates get regulatory approval, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has told the Dáil.

Speaking in the Convention Centre in Dublin, the health minister originally said “every citizen” but later clarified that he meant “every resident” in Ireland, and he apologised for any confusion. 

Ireland is due to receive 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the first quarter of 2021, said Donnelly.

He told TDs that at the moment the State is getting 40,000 doses a week from Pfizer, with lower amounts from Moderna, which is delivering every two weeks.

The minister said the EU-wide purchase deal provides for monthly deliveries, the first of which is currently set for mid-February. He said EU members are examining if this can be brought forward.

Donnelly also said the ‘buffer’ of vaccines is going to be reduced to very low levels in order to hit the 140,000 vaccination target for residents and staff in long-term care facilities by Sunday.

He said the government is on track to meet that target this weekend.

This is due to an under-delivery this week from Pfizer which will be rectified next week, he said. 

The minister also said only carers working in “formal” sectors such as the HSE-run facilities as well as private nursing homes will be part of the cohort 2 group. Dentists will also be included in this group.

He told the Dáil that he was concerned by some reports that there could be political interference when it came to who gets the vaccine first. Donnelly said this is not the case, stating that who is designated to certain cohorts is determined by health experts. 

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The minister also used today’s Q&A as an opportunity to address the controversy over the way he addressed the Leas Ceann Comhairle Catherine Connolly in the Dáil last week.

He received backlash online after he insisted on responding to a query in the Dáil, while also pointing his finger to the chair, despite being told by Connelly that his speaking time was up.

After being rebuked by the Leas Ceann Comhairle, Donnelly appeared to mutter “unbelievable” under his breath before sitting back down.

Today he admitted he spoke in an “unacceptable and inappropriate way” to the Leas Ceann Comhairle, telling the Dáil that is something he “sincerely regrets”.

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