Ireland is aiming to have 70% of adults fully vaccinated by the end of July, the Taoiseach has told Newstalk Breakfast.
Over the long weekend, the rollout passed three million doses administered, with around one-quarter of eligible adults fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, just over half of people had received their first dose.
Supply issues mean the Government is now unlikely to meet its target of offering a first dose to 82% of adults by the end of June.
Speaking to Shane Coleman this morning, Micheál Martin said the HSE is now aiming to vaccinate seven-in-ten people by the end of next month.
“I think we are in a good position,” he said. “I think the target we are aiming for is by the end of July – and this is a target dependent on supply – that we will have 70% fully vaccinated.”
Mr Martin said the recent decision to shorten the interval between AstraZeneca doses would help the HSE hit the new target.
He said the 70% target is “in line with where Europe wants to be by the end of July.”
“June is going to be a very good month again,” he said. “The last two weeks of June is looking good in terms of security of Pfizer BioNTech in particular.
“The AstraZeneca visibility is also improving. I would have met with AstraZeneca last week on that issue. They have developed new capacities in Spain and Germany in terms of fill and finish so therefore they are looking better than perhaps they did earlier in the pandemic in terms of the supplying and giving us visibility of that supply over the next couple of weeks
“That is two big issues for us. The two big vaccines at the moment – Pfizer is the workhorse, Moderna is doing fine and fulfilling its obligations and now AstraZeneca coming in a bit stronger.”
He warned however that the supply of Jansen is “not at all clear at this stage.”
The Taoiseach said the HSE aims to see all third-level students vaccinated by the time the academic year begins.
He said it will then turn its attention to the country’s teenagers.
“NIAC (National Immunisation Advisory Committee) are looking at that at the moment,” he said. “Some vaccines have already received authorisation on that front.
“Europe is very clear that we will be vaccinating teenagers – that is the European position – going into 2022.
“To that end, Europe has ordered and pre-purchased now large doses of vaccines for 2022 and 2023. They have entered into contracts with Pfizer and they will be doing so with other mRNA producers and protein-based vaccines.”
He said the new contracts will also help the EU respond to the threat of new variants.
“The mRNA vaccines can adjust and change quickly and can be adapted quickly to deal with variants that might emerge so there is a lot of good preparatory work being done by Brussels now and by the Commission on this front,” he said.
“They have set up a group called the HERA group, which is a combination of manufacturers, Biotech companies, and Commission researchers to get ahead of it now in terms of variants that might come our way so that habitually, in time, we could be getting booster vaccines to top up what we have already received in terms of our immunity.
“So, I think Europe is in a better shape now than it was prior to the pandemic.”
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