Statement: Minister for Health marks 100 days of the COVID-19 vaccination programme

Published on: 08 April 2021

Wednesday marked the first 100 days of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, one of the most significant public health strategies of our time. As of Saturday 3rd April, over 17% of Ireland’s adult population (aged 16+) have now had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine – that’s one in six adults – and 7% of our most vulnerable people are now fully protected with the first and second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have faced incredible challenges. Families have lost loved ones and there is no one in our society whose life has been untouched by the economic, social and personal impacts of this disease. While we continue to follow the public health restrictions required to suppress this virus in our communities, the impact of our vaccine programme is growing in strength and is already having a very positive effect on the lives of those who have been vaccinated.

The early days of the vaccination programme focused on safeguarding the most vulnerable to severe illness and frontline healthcare workers. The numbers of COVID-19 infections in long term residential care, among healthcare workers and in those aged over 85 has fallen dramatically since the vaccination programme began. Recent figures show that cases among people aged 85 and older now represent fewer than 1 per cent of all cases, down from almost 6 per cent at the end of January. At the end of January cases in outbreaks in long-term residential care settings represented 15 per cent of the total. That has fallen to less than 1 per cent today.

Visits to nursing homes and long term residential care facilities have been extended and it is now possible for those who are fully vaccinated to visit with other fully vaccinated people (from one other household only) without the need for face coverings or social distancing. It is important to emphasise that a person is only fully vaccinated two weeks after the 2nd dose of the vaccine.

The priority of Ireland’s COVID-19 vaccination programme is to minimise harm, protect against severe illness, hospitalisation and death, to protect our healthcare system and to continue to provide COVID and non-COVID care. This week we will reach a milestone of administering 1 million vaccine doses and we have much cause for hope for the further reopening of our society in the coming weeks and months.

We have agreements in place to purchase 18.5 million vaccines. We now have three very safe and effective vaccines currently being administered in Ireland and a fourth one coming on stream in the very near future.

On Tuesday 30th March, I launched the Government’s updated COVID-19 Vaccination Allocation Strategy based on an age-based delivery model. This updated strategy is founded on the latest scientific, clinical and ethical frameworks provided by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee and the Department of Health. The renewed focus on vaccine delivery by age protects those at highest risk of severe disease as a first priority, improves transparency and facilitates planning and implementation of the programme across the country.

We begin the next 100 days with a positive outlook and an upward trend in vaccines administered. On Friday 1st April, over 30,500 vaccine doses were provided. More than 11,000 vaccinators have now been trained while recruitment for vaccinators for 38 vaccination centres is ongoing. 

Together, we have faced many difficult days in 2020 and 2021. The vaccine rollout is accelerating and detailed figures are provided below. These projected/indicative delivery schedules can, and will, fluctuate. Delivery schedules have changed in the past as they are dependent on manufacturers meeting commitments. Confirmation of specific delivery dates typically occurs two weeks before a delivery is due. I hope these figures will provide some degree of comfort around the sheer volume of vaccines due in the coming months, but would stress they are indicative.

As the vaccine programme builds momentum week on week, please continue to follow the public health advice, protect each other and stay safe from COVID-19.

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