The man overseeing Ireland’s vaccine rollout has still not got a jab — despite half the Irish adult population now having received at least a first dose.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly commented in a Dáil aside today: “I’ve registered for mine, but no date yet.”
TDs mentioned receiving their own doses and paid tribute to the smoothness of the experience and procedure.
Gino Kenny, of Solidarity/People Before Profit, said he received a jab yesterday and said it had been “an emotional experience.”
He said he had found the last 15 months to be highly stressful and very difficult.
Independent TD Sean Canney said: “The feelgood factor from everybody around the country who has got vaccinated is palpable, and we need to continue that.”
It comes as the Health Minister said it is unclear if the Government will reach its target of vaccinating 82pc of the population by the end of June due concerns about the delivery of vaccines.
Mr Donnelly said half the country’s adult population will have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of this week.
However, Mr Donnelly also revealed there will be a “significant under-delivery” of the vaccines next month due to complications with orders.
He expressed concern about the scheduled arrival time of vaccines ordered from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson who produced the Jansen Vaccine.
He said there are serious concerns about the Jansen vaccine and said even the best case scenario would see Ireland left short of nearly half of the 470,000 jabs due to arrive next month.
This would mean around 235,000 Jansen vaccines arriving in June which would lead to knock on complications for the National Vaccination Programme.
Mr Donnelly said the “worst case scenario” could see only 60,000 Jansen vaccines delivered on time. He said there is an issue with the vaccine being cleared for manufacturing in the US.
He said there are still “questions” over whether AstraZeneca will meet their delivery targets in the coming weeks. There have been long running issues with AstraZeneca’s delivery of vaccines across Europe.
The minister also said there is a “slight adjustment” with Pfizer delivery targets but said the pharmaceutical company will fulfil its delivery commitments by the end of June. He said there is no issue with the delivery of the Moderna vaccines at present.
Mr Donnelly said 96pc of vaccines are used within seven days of their arrival in the country and said he expected the 50pc milestone to be reached this week.
“We have tried to provide the forecasts but always you’ll be aware with heavy caveats,” Mr Donnelly said.
“The government target is to get them out the door and if they arrive then this is the amount of people who would be seen so I would ask that that spirit is still honoured now because that's the way we've always had we've always operated,” he added.
But the public can still look forward tomorrow to a “very positive announcement” on the lifting of Covid restrictions, Leo Varadkar said.
In conceding the shortfall, Mr Varadkar said the target was always dependent on supply, which also applied to the AstraZeneca vaccine.
But the ambition would only he missed by “a few weeks,” he predicted, with the 82pc level being reached early in July.
“I think we can look forward to a very positive announcement on Friday in relation to the reopening of our society and our economy and the phased return to international travel and events,” Mr Varadkar said.
“The vaccine programme is going really well. As we've always said, The only constraint will be supply, and it's still the case that once vaccines come into the country, 95-9pc of them are in someone’s arm within a week.”
Over 2.5 million vaccines have been administered, and by the end of this week more than half the adult population in Ireland will have received at least one dose, he said. “That's very good progress.”
On the targets, the Fine Gael leader told Alan Kelly, leader of the Labour Party: “They've always been subject to supplies arriving on time. And if they do not arrive on time, well then there is a risk that we will miss those targets.”
He added: “That does now appear to be likely. But if we do miss the targets, it will be because of factors beyond our control. And that is the supply of the vaccine.
“We hope to be able to provide revised targets as part of the announcement on Friday.”