Taoiseach confident vaccine targets will be met subject to supply

Surplus supply from Germany ruled out as Martin vows to wait his turn for vaccination

Taoiseach Micheál Martin visits a vaccination centre in Ballybrit, Co Galway, where the Covid-19 vaccine is being administered to healthcare workers. Photograph: Aengus McMahon

Taoiseach Micheál Martin visits a vaccination centre in Ballybrit, Co Galway, where the Covid-19 vaccine is being administered to healthcare workers. Photograph: Aengus McMahon

 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he is confident that targets missed in the early stages of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout will be quickly made up once supply is increased.

Mr Martin was speaking in Ballybrit, where he viewed a vaccination centre at Galway Racecourse, where more than 4,000 healthcare workers were vaccinated this week.

“All targets are subject to the supply. We are administering significant amounts of vaccine, notwithstanding the challenges we have with AstraZeneca, and that is a challenge. AstraZeneca are saying they will make up the shortfalls so far and we will see as time moves on,” he said.

“In relation to the second quarter we are confident of significant additional supplies. So we are confident we can make those targets, but it is subject to the supply. We cannot control the supply but I am conscious Europe is making additional efforts to increase capacity and increase supply.”

Mr Martin ruled out receiving surplus vaccine supply from Germany.

“The Germans have made it very clear to us they will be using all their vaccines,” he said.

Mr Martin (60) confirmed that he had not yet been vaccinated, would not be receiving special treatment and would get the vaccine at the same time as people his age.

“I have not been vaccinated and I’ll be waiting in the queue in terms of the cohorts prioritisation that the National Immunisation Advisory Authority have set.

“I don’t have a time frame. We are hoping to have all over-70s done by mid-May, then we move into the 60-70s, so it should be some time before the end of the summer.”

No ‘red flags’

Mr Martin said that there had been no “red flags” so far since the partial reopening of schools earlier this week.

“It is probably too early to say but so far, you will note from the daily Nphet [National Public Health Emergency Team] briefings, that the caseloads are still going down gradually, albeit at a slower rate than two weeks ago.

“There are no red flags at this stage in relation to the schools reopening. I think it was wonderful to see our children go back into school. I think it has given people a lift. We will continue to monitor this and Nphet will continue to monitor this and determine any impact for the wider spreading of the disease.”

He also appealed to students to adhere to the guidelines after issues with university students in Galway and Limerick were exposed.

“Let us not assume that all students are breaching guidelines. Many, many students are adhering to the guidelines and to those who aren’t I would say, we are vaccinating your grandparents, we are vaccinating the most vulnerable in society, if we spread the disease we risk their health and their lives. The easiest way to protect your parents, grandparents and those who are vulnerable is to stick with this for a while longer.”

Meanwhile, Mr Martin said plans had not been finalised for a virtual meeting with United States president Joe Biden on St Patrick’s Day.

“We will have to await details on that, and when the details are finalised they will be announced. There is ongoing contact between our two administrations and we will announce that in due course. That’s all I’m going to say so far.”

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