The Health Minister Stephen Donnelly says Ireland will receive doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine a week earlier than planned.
He was speaking after the the European Medicines Agency (EMA) recommended the vaccine for authorisation in the EU.
This is the third such vaccine that the EMA has recommended, after Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
The drug has been given the green light for use in people aged over 18.
It means it can be administered to all adults - despite German experts advising not to give it to those aged 65 or over.
Minister Donnelly told The Hard Shoulder this is good news.
"It's great news - it's been a tough week with AstraZeneca, we had that really frustrating news that they were looking to reduce their agreed deliveries right across the European Union."
He said this was "an on-going conversation".
But added: "Today is the day we've all been looking to...they have approved it, and they haven't put any restrictions on it in terms of the over-65s or anything like that".
"And on top of that we've succeeded in getting it in a bit earlier. The contract was to get it in the week of the 15th of February.
"I can confirm now, for the first time, that it's been agreed that we will get it in the week of the 8th of February.
"It may not be the 8th, but the week of the 8th.
"So a week earlier: that means we can get it out, get it into people's arms and get people protected that little bit earlier as well".
Asked about any concerns in relation to the vaccine in older people, Minister Donnelly said he would not second-guess any decision by the Irish regulator, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).
"I don't want to pre-empt that, Kieran; you'll appreciate it's an independent advisory group.
"It'll be providing advice into the department, into me and I just need to leave them the space to look at that themselves".
But he said he expected any such decision within the next few days.
On coronavirus vaccine supplies, Mr Donnelly said exact figures can be hard to predict.
"It's moving around - the entire world is engaged in a programme the likes of which has never happened before, and this is part of it.
"The conversation that's going on between the [European] Commission and the UK now, and the company, is pretty unprecedented.
"We've been trying to give people sort of indicative timelines based on what has been agreed as to the roll-out.
"And then when we had to say 'Look, AstraZeneca are changing their position' - people were naturally frustrated."
He said "the goalposts will continue to shift on this", but added that "it's looking like about 1.1 million doses to the end of March".
"And that's really just the start - we've actually advanced purchased over 14 million doses in total".
Earlier Irish woman Emer Cooke, executive director of the EMA, said: "With this third positive opinion, we have further expanded the arsenal of vaccines available to EU and EEA member states to combat the pandemic and protect their citizens.
"As in previous cases, the CHMP has rigorously evaluated this vaccine, and the scientific basis of our work underpins our firm commitment to safeguard the health of EU citizens."
While Tánaiste Leo Varadkar tweeted: "This is good news. It means we now have another vaccine in the arsenal. AstraZeneca has met the EMA’s strict criteria."
EU doses row
It comes amid an ongoing row between the pharmaceutical company and the EU over doses.
The Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides, said there was a 'constructive tone' in a meeting with AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot on Wednesday night.
She said the EU remained "united and firm" and that contractual obligations "must be met, vaccines must be delivered to EU citizens".
"We regret the continued lack of clarity on the delivery schedule and request a clear plan from AstraZeneca for the fast delivery of the quantity of vaccines that we reserved for Q1.
"We will work with the company to find solutions and deliver vaccines rapidly for EU citizens," she tweeted.
The reduction in supply means Ireland is expected to get around 300,000 doses - instead of an expected 600,000 - by the end of March.
While Health Service Executive (HSE) CEO Paul Reid earlier warned that the vaccine rollout is going to be a 'rocky road'.
He told Newstalk Breakfast the HSE can only offer 'uncertainty' at the moment due to the complications around vaccine supply.
"Where everyone is looking for predictability, certainty and clarity, all we can give at the moment is uncertainty", he said.
"This will get stronger and a bit clearer as more vaccines emerge.
"But we have to be frank and say we’re living with a bit of uncertainty for now."