AN TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has said 135,000 people will be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of next month.
The Fianna Fáil leader was speaking on RTÉ's News At One today where he made the pledge that 135,000 people in Ireland will have received both doses of a vaccine by the end of February.
35,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are expected to be administered this week, and the number will rise once Ireland gains access to other vaccinations, such as the Moderna vaccine which is expected to be approved by the EU regulator on Wednesday.
Mr Martin did not accept that Ireland is slow at rolling out the vaccine, stating it will be delivered "in accordance with the supply chain" and some of the most vulnerable people will have been fully vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the end of next month.
"That's about 75,000 people in long-term care facilities, both residents and staff, and up to about 60,000 frontline healthcare workers. This relates to the supplies that we can be assured of from Pfizer/BioNtech," he said.
"More vaccines will come", he promised, and urged people to be patient while other vaccinations such as the Modera and Oxford vaccines undergo approval.
"We will be in a very different position in the summer time," Mr Martin said, promising "there is a light at the end of the tunnel."
Ireland is again under strict restrictions to help slow the spread of the virus, which has spiked in most counties and risks overwhelming the health service, and the sheer volume of infections means that close contacts are no longer being tested if they do not develop symptoms.
Yesterday, a further 6,110 new cases were confirmed in the community, however the real number is likely to be higher due to a backlog in the system delaying reporting.
The Government is in talks about the possibility of closing schools until at least the end of January to prevent further spread of the virus, however it is understood that no decision has been reached yet.