Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said the first Covid-19 vaccines will be administered on 30 December.
Minister Donnelly said frontline healthcare workers and nursing homes will be vaccinated first and they can "then have a different conversation about opening up".
Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, he said just under 10,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine are expected to arrive in Ireland on St Stephen's Day.
The minister said that a second shipment of "several tens of thousands doses" would arrive in the first week of January and every week from then.
The hope is that the 30,000 people living in nursing homes will be vaccinated by some stage in February, he said.
Minister Donnelly said the Government is looking for "an accelerated quantity" of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and for confirmation of the quantities of the Moderna vaccine that will be made available to Ireland.
He said "let's wait and see" if restrictions will be relaxed later in January.
At a briefing where the tightening of Covid-19 restrictions were announced, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said vaccines were on the way.
But he said that vaccinating millions of people would take time and in the meantime people have to be very vigilant.
Mr Martin said they cannot go any faster than they are allowed by the available supply of the vaccines and the dosing schedules required for them to be effective.
"As despondent as any of us might feel with the return of restrictions, it is important to remember that the hope is real, there is light at the end of this tunnel," he said.
"Vaccines are on the way, last night I received confirmation that we will shortly receive delivery of almost 10,000 vaccines against this disease.
"The roll-out of these will commence next week to our most vulnerable and we will safely and swiftly build from there."