• Sun. Aug 14th, 2022

Feb 6, 2021

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly’s office has poured cold water on suggestions the medically vulnerable could be vaccinated earlier due to the AstraZeneca vaccine not being administered to the over-70s.The Government has decided to only vaccinate those in the vulnerable over-70s group with Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines after being advised that AstraZeneca could be less effective in older people, due to lack of data on the effectiveness for that age cohort.The Taoiseach and Tánaiste both said on Thursday that due to the decision, others could see their vaccinations sped up.
Micheál Martin said: The good news in some respects with the decision on AstraZeneca for the other lower cohorts is they will now be brought forward.
Some of those, particularly also those who have illnesses which compromise their immunity, I think we have to look at those who are high risk. 
However, a spokesman for Stephen Donnelly said it was “too early to say” that any group could see their inoculation moved forward.
“The key things are to finish cohort one and two,” he said.
It was noted the vaccine roll-out plan is open for review, but is “entirely dependent on supply”.
“If supply holds up into April/May, and we have no confirmation that it will, we may have to revisit that, but it’s not on the agenda,” the spokesman said in reference to moving people’s vaccine date forward.
We’re pretty much on schedule as planned, particularly in regards for the most vulnerable.”
It’s understood there are still four nursing homes who have not had any vaccines whatsoever due to the severity of virus outbreaks and medical advice stating that anyone who has Covid-19 must wait 28 days from recovery before they can be vaccinated.
There are about 100 homes who had not been fully vaccinated because some residents were infected with the virus.
Meanwhile, Mr Donnelly expressed confidence that 70% of GPs will be able to provide the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to patients in their own surgeries.
There were about 400 smaller practices who may have to provide local solutions, such as joining together with neighbouring practices or coming together in a centre or working from the premises of larger practices.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly is confident that 70% of GPs will be able to provide the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to patients in their own surgeries. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins
A deal with GPs is not signed, however, the department says the doctors have “readily engaged”.
It’s expected the deal and a plan for the GP roll-out will be put forward in coming days.
The minister said that 21,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were expected to arrive in the country this weekend from a total of 190,000 doses for the month of February. 
It remains unclear how much of the final quantity of the scheduled 600,000 doses for the first quarter would arrive.
The doses arriving this weekend would be administered to frontline workers early next week.
“This situation had always been a possibility so plans were in place,” added Mr Donnelly.