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06.25 15 Dec 2020


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Large, centralised vaccination centres are being planned to roll-out the COVID-19 vaccines to everyone next year.

Cabinet ministers will consider a report on Tuesday morning that will set out how they should be distributed.

A high-level COVID-19 taskforce reported to Government last Friday and that will be published following today's Cabinet meeting.

It will set out how vaccines will be secured, transported, stored and ultimately delivered.

The report says there will be five places it will be possible to get a vaccine.

Firstly in long-term residential care homes and healthcare settings like hospitals - in order to give the most vulnerable and frontline health workers first access.

Later next year, large scale vaccine sites will be set up in a similar manner to how large testing centres were put together.

eliminate coronavirus Professor Ivan Perry testing tracing A Covid-19 Testing Centre, run by the National Ambulance Service, in Newbridge Co Kildare. Picture by: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Finally, in later stages, the vaccinations will be available from GPs and pharmacists.

While the Department of Health expects the first vaccinations to be done in the week after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approves a vaccine, it will be much later into 2021 before any sort of wide-scale vaccination is achieved.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has also said it is going to take "quite a long time to get everybody vaccinated" against COVID-19.

Speaking on The Hard Shoulder on Monday, he said it is likely to be March, April or May until 'increased volumes' of vaccines are available.

Ireland has advanced purchase orders with five companies, which would provide 14.6 million doses at a cost of €112m.

However, even once approved not all of those doses will arrive in the country at once - which makes timelines very hard to predict.

'Priority for the most vulnerable'

Cabinet signed off on a plan to place nursing home staff and residents at the top of the queue for the vaccine last week.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the vaccine would be offered free of charge to everyone in Ireland.

"A key part of the roll-out will be ensuring that those most vulnerable to COVID-19 receive vaccinations first," he said.

"Given the country’s experience with COVID-19 to date and the risks that vulnerable people and those in frontline roles in the health and social care services continue to face, it is only right that they are prioritised in the allocation of vaccines.

"The Government has followed the advice from our leading medical experts."

While on Monday, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said Ireland was 'on the cusp' of deploying 'at least two' vaccines as part of a national vaccination programme.

He said this is pending authorisation by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

EU regulators are expected to decide whether to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by the end of the month, with a decision on the Moderna vaccine in January.

Dr Glynn also moved to reassure the public, suggesting nothing about the development of a vaccine implied that short-cuts had been taken.

Reporting by: Sean Defoe | Additional reporting: Jack Quann

Main image: Training on the procedure for administering the coronavirus vaccination using a syringe with saline solution at a training vaccination centre in Germany. Picture by: Martin Schutt/DPA/PA Images

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