On Thursday, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD told the Dáil at the convention centre that there are real concerns about the supply of the single-shot dosage of the Johnson and Johnson/Janssen vaccine. The vaccine is one of four vaccines being used to inoculate people around Ireland. There is grave concern about whether Ireland will meet it’s target of 82% of the population being vaccinated by the end of June.
There was 600,000 doses of the J&J expected to arrive in June, however the Minister for Health has announced that there will be shortage of supply. The worst case scenario could result in only 60,000 arriving, only 10% of the original figure. The best case scenario could result in 235,000 doses arriving in June. In total, 470,000 doses of J&J had been planned to be administered next month.
The Government is also gravely concerned with the arrival of AstraZeneca vaccines, but no official figures have been provided as to how many may not arrive. AstraZeneca vaccines have received criticism for the effectiveness and delivery since the beginning of their rollout in Europe.
Minister Donnelly told the Dáil that he has registered for his vaccine, but has not received an appointment as of yet. Other TD’s have also spoken of their experience receiving the vaccine, which has been a glimmer of hope for many across the island of Ireland. Labour Party Leader Alan Kelly TD, has said he hopes that this shortfall of vaccine delivery will not impact the easing of restrictions across the country, which have plagued mostly the hospitality sector over the 15 months.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD told the Dáil that the government was committed to continuing a steadfast rollout of vaccines, stating that this is a supply side issue. The Tánaiste said “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.”
Mr Varadkar and Mr Donnelly both said that more than 95% of vaccines are used within a weeks arrival on Irish shores. Mr Varadkar emphasised that the country could look forward to an announcement on the easing of restrictions on Friday evening. Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD will announce the new breakdown on the easing of restrictions on live television.
Recent polls have revealed that now 88% of the country are willing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, with the rest unsure or against the notion of receiving a vaccine. Those who are unwilling to receive a vaccine are only 4% of that 12% figure. This shows the progress and uptake of people receiving the vaccine across Ireland, which has been increasing since the beginning of the vaccine rollout.
Ireland has suffered one of the most stringent lockdowns in the EU, with many vocally criticising the approach taken. Cases are remaining constant in Ireland, with ICU and hospital cases declining steadily. The Government now seems to be taking the progress in it’s stride, with Minister Donnelly announcing that more than 50% of the adult population will have received a vaccine in the next few days.
David Cullinane TD, Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson responded “I would like to welcome the fact that half the population will have received a first dose by this weekend - that’s good news.” Deputy Cullinane also raised concerns about the supply side problems, saying that ‘it’s unacceptable.”
HSE Chief Paul Reid is optimistic and is satisfied with the vaccine rollout, remarking that the HSE has now administered “well over 2.5 million doses.” Ireland’s population was administered 300,000 plus doses last week, with between 260-280,000 expected over the course of the next week. CMO Dr. Tony Holohan has also told the HSE that over 40’s can now receive the J&J/Janssen or AstraZeneca vaccines after advice provided by NIAC.
The hospitality sector is to open on June 2nd, with restaurants and cafés returning to outdoor dining from June 7th. Kerry’s Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin asked the Taoiseach and Tánaiste why should other amenities wait until July 5th for indoor dining, since hotels and B&B’s will be able to do so on June 2nd.
It was announced on Thursday that indoor dining will open on July 5th, with unlimited dining times. You will also not be required to purchase a meal if you wish to have a drink. Those conditions will only be allowed once tables are spaced 2 metres apart.
The country will have a full clarity on the easing of restrictions when Taoiseach Micheál Martin makes his announcement on Friday evening.