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Donnelly: It’s “likely” that further rounds of vaccinations will be needed next year

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has told the Dáil that it is “likely” that further rounds of vaccinations will be needed next year on top of the current vaccine rollout.

“Notwithstanding the range of vaccines currently authorised or in various levels of production and testing, there is a need to consider the future trajectory of Covid-19 and the measures required to address it,” the Minister said.

“The degree of protection provided by the various vaccines is being monitored closely. However, it is likely that further rounds of vaccinations will be needed next year.

“In conjunction with this, it is evident the disease is evolving such that a range of variants of differing severity and infectiousness have already been detected. Plans are being advanced by the European Commission for future procurement of vaccines.

“The Commission recently commenced negotiations with Pfizer-BioNTech with a view to securing a new agreement on behalf of member states. This agreement is for the delivery of 900 million doses of a reconfigured version of the vaccine across member states over a two-year period, which is very welcome.

“If our collective experience of Covid-19 has taught us anything, it is that we must be flexible and adaptable. The disease continues to evolve and our response to it must also continue to evolve. This applies to testing, tracing, genome sequencing, rapid testing, home and hotel quarantining and public health measures.

“Of course, as the past few weeks in particular have demonstrated, the need for adaptability applies all the time to our vaccination programme.”

Despite being at the end of April, the government has not yet hit its vaccination targets it was supposed to hit in March.

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