The rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine is on track to begin in January.
That’s according to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, who said the Irish Government’s vaccination plan will be finalised in the first half of December.
A further two deaths and 299 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the past 24 hours.
The Government has made advanced purchases for four vaccines, with a fifth due to be discussed by the Cabinet next week. The goal is to have one million vulnerable people, including healthcare workers and the elderly, vaccinated before spring 2021.
“Potentially early in the new year we could be looking at things and Professor Brian McCraith (head of the vaccine taskforce) and his team are obviously very quickly putting in place the distribution needed for that,” Mr Donnelly told Newstalk’s ‘On the Record’ with Gavan Reilly on Sunday.
“I’d say December is unlikely, to be honest with you, but quite soon.”
“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 said 74% of people in Ireland said they’re in favour of taking the vaccine, which will be provided free-of-charge, but confirmed that it will not be mandatory:
“Several EU countries have introduced legislation on mandatory vaccination,” he said. “We haven’t and I can tell you there has been no conversation at Government level about doing that.”
“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,” he said.
You can listen to the full interview on Newstalk here.