The Taoiseach has said the Health Service Executive remains on target to vaccinate 450,000 people each week by mid-June and reach overall targets for the population once vaccine supply continues to arrive in an orderly manner.

Speaking in the Dáil, Micheál Martin said that 27.5% of the population have received one dose of vaccine to date and 10.9% have now received a second dose.

He said that 191,800 vaccines Pfizer vaccines arrived in the country today, one of the largest volumes to arrive to date.

Mr Martin said that there is "no menu of vaccines to choose from" as there is not enough volume to offer choice, but the HSE is working to implement the National Immunisation Advisory Committee's (NIAC) advice in relation to the roll-out of both the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the over 50s and AstraZeneca to over 60s.

The Department of Health has said that up to last Sunday, over 1.7 million doses of vaccine had been delivered to Ireland.

Of these, over 1.4m had been administered by last Monday.

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The Taoiseach also said that Ireland will "examine in some detail" a proposal to waive the intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical companies to allow developing countries to produce more Covid-19 vaccines.


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Meanwhile, the Covid-19 lead for the Irish College of General Practitioners has said it would be "optimistic" to believe 82% of adults will have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of June.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne, Dr Mary Favier, who is also a member of the National Public Health Emergency Team, said that achieving that target "would take everyone pulling out all the stops".

Dr Favier said maintaining a high level of vaccination will be "important" to any easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

"I think it's optimistic, and I think it would take everybody pulling out all the stops to achieve it.

"It will depend on supply, but we need to aim for it, we need to aim high and it is going to be so important with any easing of restrictions that we maintain high vaccination rates."

Dr Favier also said that vaccine hesitancy is "not being reflected in general practice", and that people appear to be "chomping at the bit to be vaccinated".

She urged people not to phone their GP to ask when they will receive their vaccine, reiterating the GPs cannot change vaccine prioritisation.

"People are ringing GP surgeries all the time asking when they will be vaccinated. If anything we would ask them to try not to do that as it's jamming up the lines.

"We cannot change the vaccine priority or who gets what vaccine and when, but people are really chomping at the bit to get vaccinated."

Dr Favier reiterated that the risks of clotting after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine are "tiny", "exceptionally rare" and "treatable".

"I think it's our job to explain that more, to really lay out the benefits of vaccination versus a tiny, very small risks around the clotting which is exceptionally rare and is now very treatable."

Dr Favier urged people to "think twice before delaying registration" on the basis of a "wishful hope" that they will be offered a choice of vaccine.

She said the portal to register for a vaccine does not close if the HSE has invited younger age groups to come forward for vaccination.

"It's the risk of getting your life back effectively so many patients say to us, we want to be able to go out, we want to do things we want to be safe with our families.

"We want to be safe in social environments and vaccination will bring that. And so by choosing not to vaccinate or choosing to delay, you're basically accepting that effectively."

Growing evidence vaccine 'safe' in pregnancy - expert

The chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has said pregnant women now have a choice to receive a Covid-19 vaccine and that "more and more evidence is showing it is safe choice in pregnancy".

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Dr Cliona Murphy said she is advising pregnant women that more reassuring evidence about the safety of vaccines in pregnancy is now available.

"We are feeling more confident about the safety and efficacy of vaccines in pregnant women," she said.

Dr Murphy said personal circumstances and whether a woman has a lot of interactions or not may lead them to decide to be vaccinated or to defer it until they have given birth.

She said that 90,000 pregnant women in the United States have been given mRNA vaccines and there has been "no excess side effects or adverse incidents noticed".

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She added that 70,000 pregnant women in Israel have also been vaccinated and more countries are changing their recommendations to vaccinate pregnant women.

Dr Murphy said that animal studies show no actual or theoretical risk of mRNA vaccines in pregnancy and that there is encouraging evidence the antibodies cross to the baby and may give some protection to the baby.

She said that breastfeeding mothers also need not avoid vaccination.

Dr Murphy said that the choice is there now, and she is advising women of the information as many decide to be vaccinated or not.

Meanwhile, some people under 50 years of age will get just one vaccine dose of an mRNA vaccine, such as Pfizer or Moderna, and be considered fully-vaccinated, under the revised Government vaccination plans.

It will apply to people who had laboratory confirmed Covid-19 in the previous six months and who are not immunocompromised.

The Government said it is based on evidence regarding the immune response for those under 50, who had Covid-19 and that a second mRNA dose does not appear to increase the power of the immune response.

People over 50 will get their second dose as this group appear to have a less robust immune response.

The Government has accepted a recommendation from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) that a mRNA vaccine be offered to pregnant women between 14-36 weeks gestation, after a discussion with their obstetric specialist.

It comes as Professor of Experimental Immunology at Trinity College Dublin Kingston Mills said the 60 to 69 age cohort has been "shoehorned" into getting the AstraZeneca vaccine and he criticised the decision to extend the gap between receiving the two jabs.

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Prof Mills said the decision to extend the gap could mean people aged under 60, who will receive mRNA vaccines, will be fully vaccinated before those aged over 60 who are more vulnerable.

He told RTÉ's Morning Ireland that there is no scientific evidence to support the idea that the AstraZeneca vaccine can be spread out over 16 weeks, while the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines cannot.

He said he welcomes the roll-out of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine in Ireland.

Prof Mills said all of the vaccines prevent Covid-19 and hospitalisations.

He cautioned that no vaccine is 100% effective and new reports from the US have found that vaccinated people there who later became infected with Covid-19 became infected with variants of concern - those first detected in South African, Brazil, and India.

Prof Mills said it is important to contain the variants in Ireland. He pointed out that a number of people who have tested positive in quarantine have tested positive for the variants which, he said, highlights the importance of quarantine.

Additional reporting Mary Regan, Fergal Bowers