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Brighter days Ireland will have enough Covid-19 vaccine doses for 10.3 million people, says Health Minister  

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Health Minister Stephen Donnelly

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly

Ireland could have enough doses of Covid-19 vaccines to inoculate 10.3 million people, the Minister for Health has said.

Stephen Donnelly said the State had orders in place for 18.4 million doses of vaccines for its programme, which is expected to be significantly ramped up in coming months.

The Government plans to accelerate its vaccination programme, which could see 250,000 doses administered every week by April.

But these figures are heavily caveated on the availability and supplies of the vaccines.

Mr Donnelly said the figures give the public "better hope for brighter days ahead".

The Health Minister brought a memo to Cabinet on Tuesday to purchase additional doses including an extra 1.64 million doses of Moderna, as well as 330,000 doses of Valenza, 1.1 million of Novavax and 2.1 million of Janssen.

"Up to 10.3 million people could be vaccinated if these came through," Mr Donnelly said.

Mr Donnelly added that he would like to see dentists and optometrists join the thousands of vaccinators across the country, as the State planned to significantly increase its vaccination rollout.

Speaking on Wednesday, the Minister for Health also announced changes to the vaccination programme.

People with a very high risk of suffering a severe illness or death from Covid-19 have been moved up the Government's priority list.

The decision was made following recommendations from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and the Department of Health.

Under the changes, those aged 16 to 69 with a medical condition that puts them at very high risk of severe illness and death will be vaccinated in cohort four.

They will be vaccinated directly after those aged 70 and older receive their inoculation.

Cohort five will also include those aged 65 to 69 whose underlying condition puts them at a high risk of severe illness and death.

Cohort six will include those aged 65 to 69 who are not in the very high risk group.

They will be vaccinated alongside healthcare workers who are not in direct patient-facing roles.

Key workers who are essential to the vaccination programme will also be included in cohort six.

The recommendations were also backed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).

"The primary aim of our vaccine allocation strategy remains the same - we are continuing to vaccinate those who are most likely to suffer severe illness and sadly death as a result of contracting Covid-19," Mr Donnelly added.

"It also upholds the principles of fairness and minimise harm that undermines our vaccination programme.

"The aim is to reduce the disproportionate burden on those with underlying conditions face in terms of adverse outcomes from Covid-19.

"The vaccination programme will only be limited by the availability and reliability of supply in these early stages of the programme.

"In the coming months, supply will increase substantially and we will accelerate the administration of vaccines to the general population following the vaccine allocation priority list.

"We are building capacity to be able to vaccinate in excess of 250,000 people a week.

"Subject to supply, we will receive in excess of one million vaccine doses a month from April onwards.

"The Covid-19 pandemic is a challenging event but the programme gives us a genuine cause for hope that brighter days are ahead."

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