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Portal to book vaccine appointment due to go live in April

The biggest factor in mortality and severe illness from Covid-19 is age, said the Taoiseach.

Vaccine centre in the Helix in Dublin.
Vaccine centre in the Helix in Dublin.
Image: Sam Boal

THE TAOISEACH HAS told the Dáil that the Covid-19 vaccine taskforce envisages having a national portal up and running for appointments for the general public by the third week of April. 

Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, Micheál Martin defended a move to overhaul the vaccination priority list, saying the most vulnerable in society will get their jabs as “fast as possible”.

The biggest factor in mortality and severe illness from Covid-19 is age, he said.

At yesterday’s press conference, an overhaul of the vaccination rollout plan was announced, meaning that once the vulnerable and people over 70 have been inoculated, age will be the determining factor as to when you get vaccinated.

Teaching unions and the Garda representative unions have criticised the move.

The new system will allow older teachers and older key workers to be vaccinated “much more quickly”, said the Taoiseach.

“The National Immunisation Advisory Committee and Nphet are saying that the biggest factor in mortality and in severe illness arising from Covid is the age,” he said.

“The change that has been announced is about getting the most vulnerable in our society vaccinated as fast as we possibly can, and not have any barriers or obstacles in the way of getting mass vaccinations done.”

Speaking on RTÉ’s at One, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said people aged under 35 are seventy times safer in terms of risk of mortality compared to those aged over 60.

He said the government has to prioritise the programme in a way that saves as many lives as possible.

Vaccinating 80% of the adult population by the end of June remains the target, he said.

“That is the target and, in fact, the European Union have a figure of 70% that they’re hoping, on average, would be fully vaccinated by the end of July,” Martin said.

“There will be intense vaccination during the summer months.”

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald criticised the government for not including family carers in the rejigged vaccine programme, stating that it was a “slap in the face”. Meanwhile, Labour leader Alan Kelly queried why the Government made a deal with Beacon Hospital to administer vaccines as part of the state programme.

The private hospital in Dublin has been at the centre of controversy after it emerged that it used spare jabs to vaccinate teachers from an exclusive school.

The hospital has launched an independent investigation.

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Coronavirus vaccine operations have also been suspended by the Government.

Kelly said: “The old private school line of access to whatever you want, whenever you want was at play again.

“The Beacon got access to vaccinations fairly early on in relation to vaccinating some of their own staff above some who should have been prioritised in January.

“Then there was the fact that they wouldn’t sign up to the national plan for ICU.”

Martin said the Beacon Hospital was carrying out vaccinations “quickly and effectively”.

With reporting by Press Association 

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