Jack Quann
Jack Quann

10.56 13 May 2021


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The Health Minister has said comments by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar on vaccination are 'very ambitious', and he hopes they can deliver on it.

Stephen Donnelly was responding to comments by Mr Varadkar that it may be possible to offer a vaccine to everyone who wants one by the end of June.

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But Minister Donnelly told Pat Kenny: "It's certainly a very ambitious statement, I hope it's one that we can deliver on.

"Certainly at the moment we're on track - if the deliveries continue to arrive in - we're on track for about four in every five adults who wants a vaccine to have been offered one.

"The latest analysis we have would suggest as well that everyone who wants a vaccine can be fully vaccinated by September, which is a very positive development."

On fresh advice coming from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) on the use of the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines in younger age groups, he said this would be coming "very soon".

"We'll have a recommendation from NIAC soon - they were looking at it right through last weekend.

"They are consulting with international colleagues and their equivalents in other countries".

He also said Ireland would have excess vaccines "for a short period of time" based on the current guidance.

'Expanded green zone' for travel

On travel, Minister Donnelly said safe travel should be possible from late June.

He said Ireland will be fully signed up to EU digital green certificate.

"We're fully behind it, we're going to be fully signed up to it.

"The technology is being developed in the background at the moment by Government.

"And really what it'll mean is on your phone you'll have a QR code, and that QR code can be verified anywhere within the European Union.

"And [European Commission President] Ursula von der Leyen has already been reaching out to North America... to see if we can create an expanded green zone.

"This is the way we deal with safe international travel, and pretty soon.

"The Commission is talking about late June/early July - so this is something that is going to be happening pretty soon".

'Local reasons' for maternity restrictions

And on maternity restrictions, Minister Donnelly said five of the country's 19 maternity units are not fully compliant with HSE guidelines on easing restrictions for partners.

The HSE's Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry has asked the units to facilitate a minimum 30 minute a day visit - as well as having the partner present for anomaly scans, full labour and for access to neo-natal units.

Minister Donnelly said 14 of the 19 maternity hospitals are fully compliant.

But that local issues in the five others are preventing greater access for the partners of pregnant women.

"Tipperary University Hospital - the one they're having an issue with is daily visiting - Waterford University Hospital the same.

"Letterkenny University Hospital: there's an issue with high COVID in the area and staff absenteeism, St Luke's in Kilkenny there's an issue specifically around the scans.... there isn't room for the partners to be safely accommodated for the scan - so we're basically getting the equipment moved to somewhere where it is.

"And then Wexford Hospital as well on daily visiting.

"So in all five of those, my understanding is they have identified local reasons why they can't be fully compliant at the moment".

Donnelly: Varadkar comments on June vaccines 'very ambitious'

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Main image: Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and Tanaiste Leo Varadkar in the Department of Health at a briefing on the introduction of minimum unit pricing of alcohol. Picture by: Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie

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AstraZeneca VACCINE EU Green Certificate Leo Varadkar Maternity Restrictions NIAC Pat Kenny Stephen Donnelly Travel Vaccination

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