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Vac-lash Simon Harris says vaccination targets put Government between ‘a rock and a hard place’

He said that while the Government faces backlash for failing to meet targets after batches are not delivered, it should keep sharing information on vaccine targets with people with a “caveat”.

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Higher Education Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Gareth Chaney

The Government is between “a rock and a hard place” in giving vaccination targets if batches of vaccine fail to arrive, Higher Education Minister Simon Harris has said.

There has been criticism over the failure to meet vaccination targets in recent weeks after AstraZeneca delivery shortfalls.

Former health minister, Mr Harris said the country is “on track” to have the “overwhelming majority” of adults vaccinated with the first dose by June and fully vaccinated by the end of September.

He said that while the Government faces backlash for failing to meet targets after batches are not delivered, it should keep sharing information on vaccine targets with people with a “caveat”.

“Government does find itself sometimes between a rock and a hard place on this issue.

“[The] Government says in good faith, the HSE intends to vaccinate x amount of people. Then you find out of the blue that an order of vaccines doesn’t arrive at short notice.

“I personally believe that the best approach for Government to take is to continue to proactively share all of the information that we have with people. I think it’s better to put out the targets with the caveat that things are down to supply,” he said.

He said that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine could be approved by the European Medicines Agency this week, a single jab which could prove vital in speeding up the vaccine rollout.

Minister Harris said that it is “not helpful” for Ministers to speculate on reopening dates.

“What drives me crazy and what I think drives the public crazy, is the idle speculation from politicians.

“Minister after Minister coming out and giving their view, you know, ‘What’s at the top of my head in relation to Covid?’, doesn’t serve anybody, it actually adds to anxiety.”

He said that in the lead up to April 5, in line with the Government’s plan The Path Ahead, Cabinet will look at the “potential” for outdoor activity as well as the resumption of the construction sector.

He was speaking at Government buildings as the Department of Higher Education published its three-year strategy, which includes an overhaul of the apprenticeship system to include 10,000 additional places, a new Access Plan for higher education and a review of the Student Grant Scheme.

The plan also includes a “sustainable approach” to higher education funding, which the Minister said will not include a loan-based system.

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