Róisín Shortall TD, co-leader of the Social Democrats, has today called on Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to clarify vital details of the vaccination programme for Covid-19. She asked the Minister to provide clarity in relation to the expected phasing of the delivery of the vaccine and the schedule to which he is working, as well as detail on who will administer the vaccine and whether issues that delayed the initial start have been fully resolved.

Deputy Shortall commented:

“It is a breakthrough that we now have vaccines coming on stream in Ireland, which offer great hope for the future. But the Minister really needs to provide clarity on the timeline to which he is working for the rollout of the vaccine across the various priority groups and who will be administering the vaccine.

“There have been conflicting reports of when we can expect some degree of mass vaccination and no official confirmation. The indication so far is that delivery will be slow, making it all the more important to provide a clear timeline so that people know what to expect.

“All that is known so far is that nursing home residents and staff, as well as frontline health workers, are expected to receive a vaccine by the end of February. We are still in the dark for other priority groups and for the general public. What is the expected delivery schedule for the vaccines? We are already seeing concern expressed across the EU about delays.

“The logistics are enormous and the Minister needs to come out and clarify what is being proposed. When large quantities do arrive, who exactly within the health service will be administering?

“With our health service under extreme pressure from record case numbers, we need assurance that there is sufficient staff to administer the vaccines. Are any arrangements being made to bring back retirees or involve other people with medical experience, such as medical students or the Defence Forces? There is a lack of clarity about the role that GPs and pharmacists will play and when their involvement may be needed. These are reasonable questions which deserve an early answer.

“Issues in relation to the vaccine register and consent for data collection delayed the initial rollout, and the Minister should also clarify whether they have been fully resolved.

“Finally, I would urge the Minister to be frank about the realistic timeline for the delivery and rollout of the vaccine. Every indication is that we will continue to battle this virus for many months to come, and false hope about an early end will only lead to people letting down their guard in the fight against Covid-19.”

January 5, 2021

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