The Minister for Health has said that all nursing home residents and staff will receive their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of January.
Stephen Donnelly said around 70,000 people living and working in the country's 580 nursing homes will get the jab in the coming weeks.
It comes as his party colleague Marc MacSharry last night criticised the country's roll-out of the inoculation programme.
The Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim said the EU and Ireland are "failing citizens" so far on the "pedestrian" vaccine distribution.
He added that we need to "get with the program" [sic] with just 1,800 people administered the jab last week.
EU & Ireland failing citizens so far on vaccine. Made in EU yet Israel & Bahrain lead the world using an EU vaccine 😳 12% of Israel population dosed already. Ireland have it a week, we ve put it on display and vaccinated less than 2000. Pedestrian !Let’s get with the program. pic.twitter.com/Oa15Ducur0
— Marc MacSharryTD (@MarcMacsharryTD) January 2, 2021
However, Minister Donnelly said the country will receive 40,000 vaccines a week from Pfizer in January and February as each EU state will get a "pro-rata share based on population size".
He said on Twitter that a decision on the Moderna vaccine "is imminent" while the AstraZeneca one "looks promising".
"We also have agreements with others [as] more vaccines become available and manufacturers scale up production, supply will increase," the Minister added.
"That will enable us to vaccinate more people.
"We have ordered/pre-ordered circa 7.6 million doses from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca. We have also pre-ordered from other manufacturers."
A brief update on our vaccination programme. The first vaccines were administered this week and marks a hugely important milestone. It has brought much-needed hope. We started with healthcare workers in our hospitals and are now moving into nursing homes. pic.twitter.com/ItHfgiDD0i
— Stephen Donnelly (@DonnellyStephen) January 2, 2021
Minister Donnelly urged people to stay at home and adhere to public health guidelines as "we will get through this difficult time" and "there are better days ahead.”
It comes as the Chief Medical Officer is appealing to vulnerable and older people not to leave their homes unless absolutely essential.
There were a record 3,394 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed in the Republic yesterday.
The Health Minister said the case numbers are "extremely high and hospital admissions are rising fast".
"Everyone must act as if they are infectious. Stay home. Stay safe. Everything we do as individuals to stop this virus spreading makes a huge difference," he advised.