Plans to vaccinate most people in Ireland against coroanvirus by the end of next summer are extremely ambitious, according to the World Health Organisation.
Reports this morning suggest the State aims to start vaccinating as early as next month with around one million of the most vulnerable people vaccinated in the spring.
The National Vaccine Taskforce is currently preparing for the nationwide rollout of the vaccine – and is due to submit its implementation plan to Government on Friday December 11th.
On Newstalk Breakfast with Sean Defoe this morning, WHO spokesperson Dr Margaret Harris said the target of vaccinating the majority of the population by the end of the summer is hugely ambitious.
“The equivalent of a moon-shot”
“It is a big target and with this vaccine, we do want to see the vulnerable groups particularly, that is the healthcare workers, that is the people with underlying conditions, that is the older people, vaccinated as soon as possible,” she said.
“But we also need to look at the other groups that are likely to be, not necessarily made ill by the virus but who are more likely to spread the virus.
“So again, it would be good if it could be done in that time but don’t give your Government a hard time if it doesn’t happen – it’s the equivalent of a moon-shot.”
She said it would be “very impressive” if rollout could begin as early as next month.
“It would be very impressive if they can start next month because there is a tremendous amount of preparation that has to be done,” she said.
“You have to identify everybody; you have to have all the teams in place and you also need to make sure that you monitor any possible side effects.”
Dr Harris was speaking after a new poll found that one-in-seven Irish people would refuse a vaccine if it was offered to them and just over one-in-six does not know what they would do.
Around 70% of respondents to the Ireland Thinks poll for the Irish Mail on Sunday said they were happy to take the vaccine.
The Sunday Independent reports this morning that the vaccine will be rolled out across GP practices and in regional hubs around the country.
Meanwhile, the taskforce is expected to recommend a ‘vaccine passport’ which would allow people who have received the vaccine to attend certain settings.
Dr Harris said it will be essential to convince people to take the vaccine.
“We always prefer voluntary but in different communities, different things work,” she said.
“So, in Australia, where I come from, you can’t send you child to school until they have the full childhood vaccinations that are required.
“So, there are different things that are acceptable in different communities and different ways of doing it.”
She said healthcare workers are top of the list for vaccination, “not only because they faced the virus every day but they are the people we also need to be in place and battling this virus for us.”
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