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One million vaccinated by June 'not a bad estimation', says head of task force

Education Minister Norma Foley said it was possible that “more than one million people” could be vaccinated by June.

Healthcare worker Nithya Rajendran being vaccinated in St James’s Hospital.
Healthcare worker Nithya Rajendran being vaccinated in St James’s Hospital.
Image: Marc O'Sullivan

THE HEAD OF Ireland’s vaccine task force has said a government estimate that one million people could be vaccinated by June was “not a bad estimation”. 

Speaking last night following the announcement around school closures, Education Minister Norma Foley said it was possible that “more than one million people” could be vaccinated by June. 

Asked about that prediction on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, chair of the High-Level Task Force on Covid-19 Vaccination Professor Brian MacCraith said it was “a positive and confident assumption”.

“It could be right indeed but it’s based on assumptions around the growth of vaccine availability. I think we are expecting that at some stage during the summer we will hit very large numbers if all the vaccines get approved and all the schedules of arrival happen,” he said.

“We certainly would be looking at in some months perhaps up to a million vaccines arriving per month, which means that we will get to large number.”

Bear in mind already we’re guaranteed well over 12 million doses through the advanced purchase agreements and the European Commission and the announcement this morning adds another 3 million to that.

“I think the minister was making a positive and confident assumption, we don’t have the figures to absolutely make a commitment on that yet but I think it’s not a bad estimation in terms of where things will be by summer,” he added. 

Speaking on the same programme, HSE COO Anne O’Connor said that 35,000 people will be vaccinated this week, 32,000 healthcare staff and 3,000 in care homes, with 40,000 to be vaccinated next week.

She said that the maximum number of vaccinations that can be carried out at present is about 50,000-per week but that this would likely change.

“We are confined in relation to just having the vaccine available to us, from an administration perspective it’s not a problem, we can vaccinate as many people as we have vaccines available for.”

“We’re planning on the basis of what vaccine is available to us, so we can’t see beyond that at the minute.”

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The Taoiseach said this week it’s expected that up to 135,000 people will have received two vaccine doses by the end of February. 

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Rónán Duffy

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