The head of the Covid-19 vaccine task force Professor Brian MacCraith has said that Ireland may receive enough of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the first delivery to inoculate 2,500 people. 

He was speaking at the Oireachtas Health Committee, which also heard that although the rollout of the vaccine has been rapid it has not been rushed or reckless. 

Professor McCraith said the successful rollout of the vaccine is dependent on co-ordination across Government, several state agencies and the Health Service Executive. 

The taskforce's strategy on the rollout of the vaccine was published yesterday. 

It outlines the logistics and planning that will be required for large groups to be inoculated against Covid-19.

Sinn Féin's Health spokesperson David Cullinane asked how many vaccines Ireland will get in the first phase of delivery. 

Professor MacCraith said a small supply of an initial quantity will be delivered by the end of December. 

However, he said they do not have confirmed details of what they will get and when. 

Mr MacCraith said the vaccines are typically shipped in frozen containers of just under 5,000 doses enough to inoculate 2,500 people. 

He said this was five containers of 195 vials each, and each vial has five doses. 

Professor Brian MacCraith told the committee that the challenge in implementing a vaccination programme of this scale, is unparalleled in Ireland and around the world.

Professor Karina Butler, Consultant Paediatrician and chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee, told members that although the rollout of the vaccine has been rapid it has not been rushed or reckless. 

She pointed out that the speed is a reflection of extraordinary advancements in the vaccination field that were underway before the virus hit. 

Ms Butler pointed out that vaccine safety is an overriding concern. 

She said a higher safety bar is required than for most other medical interventions as vaccines are administered to healthy individuals. 

She warned that as with all newly licenced vaccines, it is possible that some rare or very rare adverse events following immunisation. 

Therefore, she said it is critically important that, as planned, continued surveillance in the post marketing phase is undertaken.

Co-Leader of the Social Democrats Róisín Shortall asked about the impact of the vaccine on fertility and breast-feeding.

She said pregnant women were in the last category and she said clarification was needed in relation to breast feeding mothers.

Professor Butler said that more advice was needed in the area and that they are awaiting for the European Medicines Agency to provide recommendations.

She said that there was no data on pregnancy but she said there were pregnant people who have been vaccinated.

Although pregnant people were excluded from the trials she said there were always women who do not know they are pregnant.

Professor Butler said there was no outcome data on these pregnancies yet and she said that they would have to wait for the data.

She said there was no theoretical risk as to why there should be a risk with breast feeding but she said they were waiting on the documentation before giving final recommendations.