HSE to provide update on when people can expect Covid-19 vaccine

The HSE will appear before the Oireachtas Health Committee later today
HSE to provide update on when people can expect Covid-19 vaccine

The HSE is set to provide an update on Tuesday on when people can expect a Covid-19 vaccine over the coming months.

Representatives from the health service, along with those from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac), will appear before the Oireachtas Health Committee later today to discuss the country's vaccination progress.

The HSE has submitted a briefing paper on plans for the rollout of vaccines for TDs and Senators ahead of the hearing, setting out the commencement date of vaccinations for various groups.

The plan is expected to exclude the Johnson and Johnson vaccine — deliveries of which have been put on hold in Europe due to concerns of rare blood clotting events in the United States.

Under the plan, it is believed that the vaccination of people aged 59 and younger will commence in early May.

On Monday, vaccinations for people aged between 65 and 69 began, with 85,000 people from this age group already registered online.

The Committee will also hear that seven new mass vaccination centres will open this week nationally, while pharmacies will begin administering vaccines later this month.

The new vaccination centres will bring the total number in operation to 26, with it planned that a total of 37 centres will eventually operate around the country.

Chair of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Fianna Fáil's Sean Crowe, said the group has concerns regarding the rollout it will raise with the HSE today.

“We’ve heard stories of people from Donegal having to come up to Dublin or people from Clare having to come up to Dublin to get vaccines so we want to hear assurances that the system is working, how it’s working, that the system is actually... doing what it’s supposed to do,” he told Newstalk radio.

Age-based confusion

Mr Crowe also criticised confusion over the weekend following suggestion from the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, that the earlier vaccination of younger cohorts was being considered in order to halt Covid-19 transmission.

“The difficulty we have as a committee is that, you know, we have the [Health] Minister come in and he outlines his view on certain matters and then a week later then there’s... a change of heart,” he said.

“I presume what he was doing at the weekend was flying a kite, we don’t really know... it’s been a while since we’ve had Minister Donnelly but as a committee we have written to him on numerous occasions looking for clarifications.”

Minister Donnelly clarified on Sunday that he had “simply asked” for an opinion on the earlier vaccination of those under the age of 30, and said there is no plan in place to change the current age-based rollout.

A total of more than 1.2 million Covid-19 vaccines doses have now been administered in the Republic.

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