Taoiseach confirms Covid-19 vaccines will be FREE as potential dates for roll-out are revealed
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Taoiseach confirms Covid-19 vaccines will be FREE as potential dates for roll-out are revealed

TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has insisted that the Government intends to roll out a coronavirus vaccine free of charge.

Speaking at a Fianna Fáil party meeting on Wednesday, Martin described the impending vaccine as "light at the end of the tunnel" as the country prepares to emerge from the pandemic in 2021.

The National Vaccine Task-force is currently ironing out a plan to distribute and administer Covid-19 vaccinations once they are clinically approved for use in Ireland.

Earlier this week, the UK became the first country in the world to officially approve a vaccine, and will begin administering doses to the public by next week.

Ireland is at the mercy of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), who are in charge of authorising vaccines to EU nations, and according to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, vaccine approvals look likely to come before the end of the month.

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Speaking on RTE's News at One on Wednesday, Mr Donnelly explained that he had spoken with EMA Executive Director Emer Cooke to establish a rough timeline for Ireland's vaccination programme.

"From the start of October, the EMA has been doing a rolling review of three of the vaccines from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna," Donnelly said.

"Yesterday [Tuesday], Pfzier and Moderna submitted their applications to the EMA for market authorisation.

"Yesterday, the EMA also announced that they are starting a rolling review of another vaccine from a company called Jansen.

"What [the EMA] has said is if the applications are sufficiently robust and complete, an EMA opinion for their authorisation within the EU could be weeks. Specifically for the Pfizer vaccine.

"They plan to conclude their assessment and give an opinion during what is called an extraordinary meeting.

"That is scheduled, at the latest, fro December 29."

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Donnelly also said that a similar meeting regarding the Moderna vaccine was set for January 12.

He added that once a vaccine is approved it will arrive in Ireland "within days".