IF PROBLEMS continue to plague Ireland's Covid-19 vaccine supply it could mean that the easing of Level 5 restrictions will be pushed back.
At the moment, the Government is planning to review restrictions on April 5, with a view to easing a number of measures around outdoor activity, before a more significant restriction lift towards the end of the month.
But the plans could go up in smoke if vaccine supply issues don't let up, according to Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O'Gorman.
Speaking to RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Minister O'Gorman stressed that the reopening of society is totally dependant on how many people in the country have been vaccinated.
"It is deeply frustrating that the commitments that were made to us by pharmaceutical companies in terms of the amount of doses of the vaccine that they could deliver aren't being met.
"We have seen success in the context of 3% of the population fully vaccinated and over half a million doses already administered.
"We are constrained by the supply. As soon as we get vaccines into the country, within a week, we are getting them administered. But we do have those supply constraints.
"I think we’ll have to tailor our lessening of restrictions in conjunction with the degree of the population that have had one or two doses of the vaccination.
"We’ve seen the huge progress the whole country has made by adhering to the Level 5 restrictions for so long.
"We saw the lowest number of cases diagnosed this year last night. We are making real progress.
"The vaccination is an absolutely key element in how we ensure that we do get the Level 5 measures reduced.
"I think our adherence to those Level 5 measures is paying real dividends at this stage."
It was confirmed earlier this week that Ireland's vaccine supply will be reduced due to delays in production of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
HSE chief Paul Reid told the Oireachtas Committee on Health on Tuesday that the country will now receive 600,000 fewer doses of the vaccine than expected.
Initially, Ireland was set to receive 1.7 million doses before the end of March, now it will receive just 1.1 million.
The vaccine roll-out has been further hampered after Johnson & Johnson announced they were uncertain that they'd be able to deliver the 55 million doses of the vaccine to the EU.