It will be June before Covid vaccinations will be administered a rate of 250,000 a week, the Minister for Health has said.
Stephen Donnelly said the vaccination programme will be “ramped up” in April and May with vaccination centres doing “more and more of the heavy lifting.”
Speaking on RTÉ radio’s News at One, Mr Donnelly said that 19 of the planned 38 vaccination centres around the country were now open and that last week 130,000 vaccinations were carried out.
All parts of the health service including vaccination centres, GPs and pharmacies will be involved in the rollout, he added.
The Government today shared its forecast vaccine supply for the coming months – an estimated 940,000 doses will arrive in April, 1.2 million in May, and 1.7 million or more in June.
Mr Donnelly said having enough vaccinators would not be an issue as there were between 500 and 600 people now in place with 800 to 900 cleared “and ready to go” at the vaccination centres.
So far good progress was being made, he said, recruitment was ongoing to ensure that enough people were being hired. “That does appear to be working quite well.”
Mr Donnelly said that 95 per cent of doses “are in the arms within seven days” and that if supplies arrive on time that four out of five people in the country who want the vaccine would have it.
When asked when a 40-year-old person could expect to be vaccinated, the Minister said “in June or July”. The specific time frame would be announced later this week.
Mr Donnelly also said that work on the mandatory hotel quarantine system was ongoing and he would like to see countries like France, Germany and the US added to the list “quickly.”
“I think the need to go on that list. There is broad agreement across Government. This week they are looking at bigger countries.”
Mr Donnelly also warned that the figure of only one Covid case of transmission per 1,000 was transmitted outdoors had to be looked at carefully as it did not include transmission in dressing rooms, for example.
The National Public Health Emergency Team produced a lot of information, he said, looking at cluster profiles and outbreak types. He said he believed they would broadly be in agreement that outdoor activity was better than indoors.