Donnelly told the Dáil he is “reluctant” to give specific estimates on vaccine deliveries.
LABOUR LEADER ALAN Kelly has accused Health Minister Stephen Donnelly of being “incompetent” during a heated exchange over the Covid-19 vaccine rollout plan in the Dáil.
Answering a question from Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson David Cullinane, Donnelly told the Dáil that for April, May and June, an average of one million Covid-19 vaccine doses are expected to arrive into Ireland per month.
However, Donnelly said he is “reluctant to give specific forecast figures that we all know are going to change”.
“Giving very specific amounts that we know that are to change has caused a lot of anxiety,” he said.
Up next, Labour leader Alan Kelly posed the question “What’s the point of you even coming in here?” to Donnelly, saying the Minister has ignored his requests for a note on vaccine delivery for the last week of March and first week of April.
Kelly said “this whole charade is a waste of time if you’re not going to answer questions”.
“Transparency is your friend here. Giving out the estimates is what you should be doing. The fact that you come in here to the Dáil and say that you don’t want to give it out isn’t acceptable,” Kelly said.
Raising his voice, the Labour leader continued: “What the hell is going on here? You are responsible to Dáil Éireann, you’re responsible to the people of Ireland and you’re refusing to give out the estimated figures for vaccines for the next three months, which the whole country is dependant on.
“It’s not acceptable. This isn’t about having confidence in you, this is about being incompetent.”
Kelly said he would not blame Donnelly is the estimated figures change, adding “we all know at this stage that the figures change”.
Responding to the Labour leader, Donnelly said Kelly “made some accusations” which are his “right to make”.
The Health Minister said he had the “most detailed figures” he could give but that Kelly hadn’t left him any time during the session to give them.
The government announced on Monday that the vaccine strategy would be changed to an age-based system once those deemed most at risk from Covid-19 have been vaccinated.
The original cohort of 15 groups for vaccination has been revised to nine, with those aged 64 and under set to be given doses last (descending from oldest to youngest).
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The decision means that key workers in frontline jobs and the education sector who cannot avoid a high risk of exposure to the virus will lose vaccine prioritisation.
Earlier this week, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly signed the authorisation for use of Janssen’s Covid-19 vaccine – developed by Johnson & Johnson – in Ireland.
The first deliveries of the vaccine – a one-dose shot that does not require cold storage like those from Pfizer and Moderna – are expected in the next few weeks.