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Covid-19 vaccine won't be available privately in Ireland as part of roll-out

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said we couldn’t have non-state bodies “off doing their own thing”.

A medical worker prepares COVID-19 vaccine.
A medical worker prepares COVID-19 vaccine.
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

THE ROLLOUT OF the Covid-19 vaccine in Ireland will be undertaken by State healthcare bodies and will not be made available through private sources. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin told the Dáil this afternoon that the vaccine rollout would be jeopardised if non-state bodies were “off doing their own thing”. 

The Cabinet today signed off on the allocation strategy for the Covid-19 vaccines, detailing the sequencing by which different groups in this county would receive them. 

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said today that there should be “no barrier to people accessing a vaccine” and that the programme would be “available free of charge to everyone in Ireland”. 

The wider strategy on the rollout of the vaccine is set to be delivered to government on Friday by the High-Level Task Force on Covid-19 Vaccination. The strategy is set to be considered first by Cabinet next week before it is published. 

Speaking today about plans for the vaccine roll-out, Labour leader Alan Kelly TD asked the Taoiseach whether it would be a “public-only” programme. 

“Will the Taoiseach confirm to the house that the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out, which will hopefully be happening quite soon, will be a public-only campaign,” he said.

In other words, it will be done by public bodies and, obviously, while they can bring in private bodies to help them, it will all be under the auspices of the State, and there will not be, in tandem, the possibility whereby private organisations which can afford to do so could potentially vaccinate separate to a national programme. 

 The Taoiseach said it would have to be a public-only roll-out. 

“It will have to be under the aegis of the State and the authority of the State because, first, the allocation to various vulnerable groupings is key, and that would be jeopardised if people were going off, doing their own thing,” Martin said. 

And the national procurement of the vaccine, the State is procuring the vaccine, in the first instance, as part of the European procurement initiative and therefore, we want to make sure we have data records of its administration so we can monitor its uptake and its effectiveness, and evaluate it.

The government has said that vaccine delivery could start in the Republic of Ireland as early as next month, once approval is given by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

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The EMA is set to complete a review of the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine on 29 December with a decision on the Moderna vaccine also potentially happening a couple of weeks later.

The European Commission has agreed advance purchase arrangements with six vaccine developers and Ireland will have the capacity to acquire almost 16 million vaccine doses.

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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