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COVID-19 vaccine will be available in Ireland from early January; Government has decided to provide vaccine for free

DUBLIN: Taoiseach told the Dáil that the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be available in Ireland from early January, once it has been approved by the European Medicines Agency.

The Taoiseach later revealed at a meeting of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party that the government had decided to provide the vaccine free of cost to people across the country.

The distribution of the vaccine would be a priority for healthcare workers, the elderly and nursing home residents, the Taoiseach said. Ireland will receive 15.6 million doses of the vaccine. Astrazeneca – 3.3 million, Janssen – 2.2 million, Sanofi – 3.3 million,

Pfizer/Biontech – 2.3 million, Moderna – 875,000; CureVac – no details yet.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said €117m has been spent by Ireland on COVID-19 vaccines. Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that all the basic facilities are in place to launch the vaccine. He said that light has been seen at the end of the tunnel and that 2021 will be the year we come out of COVID-19.

Sinn Féin demanded that the government disclose whether the GP, pharmacy and other administrative costs will be covered. Minister Donnelly said that while no decision has been made, he hopes that all costs will be covered, similar to the flu vaccine.

At the meeting of the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that a communication campaign is essential in overcoming the hesitancy of people to be vaccinated. He added that the country would achieve widespread immunity by next September and October.

When the COVID-19 vaccines become available, their safety and efficacy will be reaffirmed, said Kareena Butler, Chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee. She also made it clear that they would be subjected to scrutiny.

Health service spent €2.5 billion on COVID-19 vaccine

The health service has spent more than €2.5 billion to deal with COVID-19. The total health expenditure this year reached €20.4 billion. The figures were presented today by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly at the Oireachtas Health Committee.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has said it will spend €920 million this year on personal protective equipment (PPE). By the end of this year the stock of PPE will be equal to 12 years of supply, the Minister of Health said.

Testing and contact tracing cost €276m in total. About two million tests were conducted.

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