TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has said that the vaccination programme is “on target” and that vaccinations will progress “very quickly in May and June”.
The Taoiseach was speaking after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine at the vaccination centre at City Hall on Sunday afternoon.
Mr Martin said that the rollout of vaccines will be “transformative” and that younger people will be vaccinated but that the correct approach was to vaccinate those most vulnerable to the virus first.
“About 250,000 now of those with underlying medical conditions have been vaccinated which is a very high number.
“The more vulnerable people that get vaccinated the better, it’s a no-brainer from a public health perspective,” he said.
He said that this week, between 220,000 and 240,000 people nationally have been vaccinated and that next week, somewhere between 250,000 and 270,000 doses will be administered.
Mr Martin said the impact of all vaccines has been “very positive in terms of reduced death, severe illness and hospitalisations” and that on a European level, the Government are now focusing on the future in terms of securing vaccines for 2022 and 2023.
He said that there were 116 people in hospital as of Sunday and 32 people in ICU, the lowest number in ICU since September of last year which he said “represents very good progress”.
“We started in nursing homes, we started with frontline healthcare staff because they were treating patients on the frontline and then we went through the older age cohorts. That has worked in terms of reducing vulnerabilities much earlier on in the journey of this virus,” he said. He said that it was “interesting” speaking with European Union colleagues who he said look on with admiration in some cases in relation to the high level of take-up of vaccinations in Ireland.
“We will have higher volumes coming in now of vaccines. The delivery schedules seem more solid from all of the companies so that for the latter part of May and all of June we’ll be in a position to move quickly,” he said.
Mr Martin also said that work is being done on developing an interoperable portal to register for the so-called EU vaccine passport and that “Ireland is going to be participating” in its rollout.
“This has been a balancing act so far, let’s not forget we’re still 400 plus cases a day and that’s something we’ll always keep an eye on but what’s key to us is the hospitalisation metrics, ICU metrics and the reduction in severe illness,” he said.