It's likely just a 'matter of weeks' until authorities decide whether to approve a coronavirus vaccine for use in Ireland, the Public Expenditure Minister has said.
Michael McGrath says EU officials will likely make a decision either later this month or early in January.
This morning, the UK became the first western country to approve the use of a coronavirus vaccine - giving the green light for people to start receiving the Pfizer / BioNTech jabs.
It's expected an immunisation programme could start as early as next week, with residents and staff in care homes to be prioritised.
The companies behind the vaccine say trials have shown the vaccine to have an efficacy of 95%.
With vaccination to begin in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK shortly, where does that leave the Republic?
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Minister McGrath explained that the approval body for Ireland is the European Medicines Agency.
He said: “They have signalled they have received the application from Pfizer / BioNTech.
"They’ll meet in late December - 29th December. They may make a decision as early as then, or possibly on 12th January.
“It’s a matter of weeks away, and I think we need to let it take its course."
He said the Irish Government's specialist taskforce on delivering the vaccine is now “working away”, and will report by 11th December.
In the meantime, he said we have “no choice” but to wait for a green light and take the next few weeks to start informing the public about the vaccine.
He said: “It’s important we get as much unbiased information out there - that we communicate, inform and educate.”