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Government faces calls to appoint minister to oversee Covid-19 vaccine rollout

Labour leader Alan Kelly believes Health Minister Stephen Donnelly will have too many other things to do.

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Pfizer is one of six companies with which the Irish Government has advanced purchase agreements (Dan Kitwood/PA)

Pfizer is one of six companies with which the Irish Government has advanced purchase agreements (Dan Kitwood/PA)

Pfizer is one of six companies with which the Irish Government has advanced purchase agreements (Dan Kitwood/PA)

The Irish Government is facing calls to appoint a minister to take charge of overseeing the rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Labour leader Alan Kelly said that one person should be responsible for the deployment of coronavirus vaccines, which he said will “change the lives of everyone in the country”.

Mr Kelly told the Dail that Health Minister Stephen Donnelly will be too busy to oversee the rollout.

Doses of Covid-19 vaccines are expected to become available in Ireland in the coming months.

Ireland has opted into six advanced purchase agreements with Moderna, Oxford’s AstroZeneca, Janssen, BioNTech-Pfizer, Sanofi Pasteur and CureVac.

Mr Kelly said: “We need to plan for this and we need a comprehensive rollout strategy that is going to deal with all of our vaccines that will be available.

“We need to know the plan for the rollout.

“I am concerned here. This is not something you and the Government can get wrong in any way. I believe we need outside expertise and we need logistic expertise.

“I think very clearly we need a minister who is going to be accountable to this House, a minister who is going to be responsible for vaccine rollout.

“We need one person who is going be responsible for the rollout of vaccines which are going to change the lives of everyone in the country, from procurement, logistics, rollout – everything.”

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said that a high-level taskforce has been established to oversee the development and implementation of the programme for rollout of vaccines.

We need one person who is going be responsible for the rollout of vaccines which are going to change the lives of everyone in the countryAlan Kelly

He told the Dail that the taskforce has met twice and “complex challenges” have been identified including transport and storage requirements.

“It’s clear that a rollout will require a very careful and detailed Government planning,” Mr Martin added.

The taskforce is expected to complete a national Covid-19 vaccination strategy and implementation plan by December 11.

Mr Martin added that “communication” is key in the deployment of a Covid-19 vaccine.

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