'Collective effort' needed for successful Covid-19 vaccine rollout

'Collective effort' needed for successful Covid-19 vaccine rollout

Picture shows Minister for Climate Action, Communication Networks and Transport, Eamon Ryan T.D.; Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar and An Taoiseach Micheál Martin arriving at the cabinet meeting in Dublin castle.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said it will take a "collective effort" to roll out the Covid-19 vaccine.

Cabinet is meeting today to sign off on the vaccination strategy, which will be published later this afternoon.

Under the plan, up to 14.3 million doses of the vaccine could be purchased at a value of over 112 million euro, which will be supplied to the public free of charge.

The proposals being brought to Cabinet by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, and will see the most vulnerable in society, those with underlying conditions or over the age of 65, being vaccinated first.

The Taoiseach said today that the timetable for the rollout will depend on the production capacity of the pharmaceutical companies, as well as approval from the European Medicines Agency.

He said: "I think it all depends on the manufacturing capacities in the various companies, and the timing of the vaccines getting authorisations.

"We know that Pfizer-BioNTech will be, all things going well, authorised by the end of the year.

"Moderna the next vaccine then coming around January 12.

"Then we have another four to five candidates that the European Union has signed up to whose vaccines will come on stream at various points.

"This is subject to the manufacturing plans of various companies and the timescale in relation to the authorisation of the respective vaccines.

"We have a plan in place now, we have a plan to roll out.

"It will be a collective national effort now to roll out the vaccination programme as a very significant additional tool to deal with Covid-19 and getting people's lives back to normal in 2021."

However, Mr Martin warned that people need to keep their guard up against the virus and cut their level of contact with other people if they wish to visit loved ones at Christmas.

He told RTÉ's Morning Ireland: "People have to be vigilant.

"We cannot let our guard down.

"We know coming into the Christmas period that inevitably people's movement will increase.

"I think we all have to mind ourselves, we all have to behave as if we have the virus and that we don't want to pass it on to anybody else.

"In particular, if we want to meet loved ones at Christmas, it's important that our behaviour up to Christmas reflects that.

"Every contact counts, so reduce your contacts to the minimum level and that will enable you to protect those closest to you."

Meanwhile, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has admitted that there is no timetable for when the younger and healthier cohort of society will receive the vaccine.

He said: "We don't have a timeline yet.

"It will depend on a variety of factors, including the availability of the vaccines."

He added: "The entire resources of the health system will be provided towards this.

"It's obviously critical to try and get us out of the current arrangements."

Mr Ryan also said it was important the Government openly addresses any concerns people may have about the safety of the vaccine.

He said: "I think that's very important within public health messaging and Government messaging that we address concerns in a rational way, we address the underlying cause of that concern and we show through scientific evidence that this is safe.

"That's why the European Medicines Agency is taking its time, going through the data and looking at all the testing that is being done."

He said he was more than happy to take the vaccine, and that doing so would be a "social act".

He said: "It's a protection where the actions I take help protect those I love as well.

"I see it as a social act in that way."

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