It is expected life will be ‘relatively back to normal’ by next summer – even if the entire population is not vaccinated
More than 14 million Covid-19 vaccines will be administered in care homes, hospitals, GP clinics, pharmacies and in regional vaccination centres under the Government’s plan to stop the spread of the coronavrius.
The State’s Vaccination Task Force has recommended five key locations where people will be able to receive the much-anticipated vaccine.
The Task Force’s soon-to-be-published report says healthcare facilities will serve as the main centres for vaccinations and they will also provide mobile vaccine teams who will administer jabs in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
Centralised mass vaccination centres will also be used with a senior Government source suggesting the Citywest Hotel in Dublin is earmarked as a vaccine hub.
GP practices and pharmacies will be used in the later stages of the vaccination programme.
The Government is signed up to advanced purchase agreements for five different vaccines which will cost around €112m. It is also expected they will sign up to the Sanofi vaccine once more trials are completed.
The entire programme will involve 14.4 million vaccines being administered to the population.
Some of the vaccines will require double doses while others will involve one jab.
The Vaccine Task Force’s report is being described as a “living document” due to the complex nature of the deployment plan which will be subject to change depending on various factors.
A senior Government source said the plan does not set targets for administering the vaccine, but added they expect life to be “relatively back to normal” by next summer – even if the entire population is not vaccinated.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly will bring a memo to Cabinet this morning on the task force’s report and the vaccine plan will be unveiled later today.
Meanwhile, the HSE is developing an “end-to-end comprehensive digital solution” to ensure people will experience the same process in getting their vaccine.
Computer software is being sourced which will be used to deal with registration, bookings, second bookings and monitoring of vaccines.
A communications strategy focused on medical experts will be used to build trust in the safety of the vaccines.
“We understand the legitimate concerns people may have and want to reassure all sectors of society in a plain-speaking way,” a Government source said.
Meanwhile, former health minister Simon Harris said he believed the national vaccination programme will involve “our GPs, our pharmacists, and perhaps our nurses”.
The allocation of staff to mobile hubs operating around the country will also be considered by ministers.
One of the key concerns will be rapid administering of the vaccine, with hospital nurses currently only giving inoculations on direction of a doctor.
But a Cabinet source told the Irish Independent: “This looks to be a case of all hands on deck – so you should put the syringes into the hands of healthcare assistants if necessary.”
There have been many previous calls for the clinical capabilities of nurses to be expanded. Sources suggested no law change would be required, just a direction from the minister to the HSE.
Mr Harris said another key area would be ensuring uptake and countering anti-vaccine propaganda on social media.
“I think we have to be very open and honest with people in providing the information that they require,” he said.
Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said people should not be “shamed” for travelling home this Christmas as he is confident those who have made the decision have made the right call.
The Green Party leader said he stands by the government’s current guidelines and that the recommendation is to try and minimise travel.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland he said: “I think what we are recommending is to try and minimise it (travel).
“There will be instances where people can’t avoid it. The traffic we’re seeing is about a tenth of normal times, so there is a 90pc reduction in the number of people travelling.
“For those who are travelling for a variety of reasons, some will have to do so for work, some have to return home for a family reason, what I’ve said is that they have to make the judgment call on that.
“They have to include the risk of not bringing the virus home to their loved ones here. I don’t think the right approach is to shame or be making individual investigations on what the correct family decision is.
“I think Irish people are responsible. We have taken a good collective approach to the guidance.
“I have confidence in families that have loved ones coming home this year that they’ve made the right call.”
In relation to the Covid-19 vaccine, The Minister said it is important to recognise the understandable concerns that some people may have.
“I think that it’s very important within the public health and government messaging that we address concerns in a rational way and show through scientific evidence that this is safe,” he said.
“We have seen the use of vaccines for the better of our people for a century or so.
“No (I’ve no concerns). I will take the vaccine and I have faith in the medical system and the scientific approach behind this development and also the social benefit of my taking it will reduce the risk
for others. I see it as a social act in that way.”