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vaccine latest Covid-19 vaccine likely to be rolled out in January, Health Minister says

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File photo dated 05/10/09 of a nurse preparing to give a patient a vaccine. The timetable for developing and approving a Covid vaccine has been condensed due to the coronavirus crisis.

File photo dated 05/10/09 of a nurse preparing to give a patient a vaccine. The timetable for developing and approving a Covid vaccine has been condensed due to the coronavirus crisis.

File photo dated 05/10/09 of a nurse preparing to give a patient a vaccine. The timetable for developing and approving a Covid vaccine has been condensed due to the coronavirus crisis.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said a Covid-19 vaccine will likely be rolled out in early January as opposed to this December.

A task-force has been set up and high-level talks are currently underway on how to distribute the vaccine and establish distributing centres across the country.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the strategy for the rolling out of the vaccine will be presented to the country by him on December 11.

Speaking about the rollout of the vaccine on Newstalk, Mr Donnelly said: “So not necessarily December but potentially very early January.

"It's very heartwarming because if we go back even a few months, the experts were saying that it would be mid next year or potentially the end of next year, or indeed in three or four years time before we might see these things, so it really has been very heartwarming."

Mr Donnelly added that Professor Brian MacCraith, chairman of the government task force overseeing the roll-out of the vaccine, is “quickly putting in place the distribution needed.”

Over the coming weeks, the government will be looking to obtain market authorisation of the vaccine as it has already signed up to receive several million doses with a number of companies, including Pfizer.

The roll-out plan will depend on the vaccine, as the Pfizer vaccine requires two doses. It is likely Ireland will receive more than one vaccine which may require different roll-out plans.

It is understood that Ireland is currently signed up to receive four vaccines, with Mr Donnelly set to bring a memo to the government on December 5.

“So, Ireland is certainly very much playing our part and making sure where we're involved we have advanced purchase of these vaccines,” he said.

“We have advanced purchase of several million doses so it's looking good.”

The Health Minister added that despite several EU countries introducing mandatory vaccination Ireland will not be doing that.

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He said: “There has been no conversation at a government level about doing that, my strong preference with that is that it would be voluntary.”

A recent Red C poll indicated that 74pc of the Irish public would take the Covid-19 vaccine when it is rolled-out.

"74pc of people said they're in favour of taking the vaccine,” said Mr Donnelly.

"We've just rolled out the biggest flu vaccination programme in the history of the state and indeed, if we could get our hands on more flu vaccine people, people are looking to take it and there's also been a very strong uptake in the HPV vaccine.

"There is this 'anti-vax movement', a lot of what I've seen is misinformation and I think it's very dangerous, but I think the vast majority of people see that for what it is and I think people are well disposed to taking the vaccine when it comes out."

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