Coronavirus vaccines have been hailed as the “beginning of the end” for the pandemic, but the Government has warned it is not the end of the virus.
Simon Harris said the vaccines will be “transformational” should they be approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Ireland will receive about 1% of the vaccines purchased through the EU’s scheme.
The Minister for Higher Education said that while it is good news, he warned of the risks of people letting “their guard down”.
Restrictions may be easing but remember - it's always safer to meet fewer people, less often, for less time to stop the spread of #coronavirus. Please limit the number of people you meet & the time you spend with them. Thank you for helping us to #StaySafe & #ProtectEachOther pic.twitter.com/ZaaQTVLWnS— HSE Ireland (@HSELive) December 5, 2020
“If we do we could end up in a really dangerous place, if we hear of good news coming over the horizon but lots of people get sick in the meantime, and we need to avoid that,” he told RTE.
“It is the beginning of the end but it is not the end.
“It is going to take a number of months to get to everybody in our country (vaccinated).
“We have to listen to our doctors. The same people who have steered us through this pandemic have done a very good job in keeping us safe and giving us good, honest advice.
“Those are the same people making the key decisions about who should get the vaccine first and how it should be rolled out.”
He added there are “reasons to be optimistic and hopeful” going into next year.
It is the beginning of the end but it is not the endSimon Harris, Minister for Higher Education
Sinn Fein’s Eoin O Broin said there was a light at the end of the tunnel but it was “vital” to have clarity around public health and political messaging.
“As always with new medicines, there will be people out there who have concerns and who have questions,” he added.
“The public health officials, who are people best placed to answer those, need to be supported by Government in clarity of message so everyone understands when this vaccine is available and the reason why certain people get it first.”
Richard Boyd Barrett warned of the impact of “chronic understaffing” on the rollout of the vaccine.
The Solidarity-People Before Profit TD also said there was a lack of “proper means” to have a vaccine register in place to monitor vaccine recipients.
He said the “perilous” health system raises question around the logistics and resourcing of a vaccine system.
“I hope those things don’t become barriers to the effective rollout of a vaccine,” he added.