It is “bizarre” that the HSE is facing criticism for missed vaccination targets when the problem is supply, according to Paul Reid.
Speaking this afternoon, the HSE chief said confidence in AstraZeneca has been rocked and officials still don’t know how many doses the company will deliver for next week.
He said the health service aims to administer between 75,000 and 85,000 doses next week.
He said there is no guarantee that AstraZeneca will be able to supply the nearly 380,000 doses it is due to deliver by the end of the month.
“At this point there are discussion going on, right as we speak, to confirm next week’s delivery and those on after,” he said.
“You know, out confidence levels have been fairly rocked with them in terms of delivery and supply so that is an ongoing dialogue with them right now.”
He said AstraZeneca’s deliveries have been thousands of doses short at times.
"One delivery where we would be expecting 52,000, we would get an early forecast saying, 'no sorry, that is 26,000,' and then, very shortly before that, we get an indication, 'well actually, it is less than 10,000," he said.
“So, that is the environment in which we are trying to operate in and we are being held accountable for missing our targets, which is bizarre."
Mr Reid said around 50,000 of next week’s doses will go to the over-70s, with thousands also set aside to complete the vaccination of people in long-term care.
Around 15,000 doses will go to people with long-term medical vulnerabilities.
“We are going to continue to rollout for the over-70s,” he said.
“We will continue in long-term care facilities to address a final sweep for dose ones and continue the sweep for dose twos. Similarly, on the Cohort Four, the medically vulnerable group.
“So ultimately next week, it will be in the range of, again based on forecasted committed supplies, in the range of 75,000 to 85,000 for next week.”
He said there are around 150,000 people in the medically vulnerable category and the majority of them will be contacted for vaccination by the hospitals they usually attend.
Mr Reid said there are now 13 Mass Vaccination Centres up and running around the country – with around 24 more due to open by next month.
With reporting from Stephen Murphy