Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD has called on the government to ‘pick up the phone’ and seek to purchase supplies of Covid-19 vaccines from companies, in addition to the supplies sourced through the EU collective deal.

Deputy Tóibín said: “The government must pick up the phone and seek to purchase vaccine supplies directly from the vaccine companies in addition to the EU Supply chain, just as Germany and Denmark did. It may cost more per vaccine but given the enormous economic cost of each week of the lockdown and the ill health it is critical that its done. The alternative is continued lockdowns and the destruction of the economy and peoples physical and mental health. I am horrified by the delays and mistakes in vaccine roll-out, lots of elderly people are reporting to me that their appointments for the first dose have been cancelled due to supply issues”

Deputy Tóibín continued: “The slow roll-out is having a catastrophic impact on Irish society. Doctors surgeries are calling me to say that there is little confirmation on when and if they will get vaccines for the over 85s in the next fortnight. I am also aware of a situation in NUI Galway where student nurses who were vaccinated last week have this week received an invitation for their first dose, despite having been already vaccinated. Given how slow the rollout is it is difficult to comprehend how it is still possible to make so many mistakes. Some student nurses, who aren’t on placement for the next few months have already been vaccinated and are frustrated at the fact that their elderly grandparents are being told to wait a further two weeks before they will receive the first dose. There are many debates about prioritisation with different sectors and groups fighting their corner, but surely we can all agree that everyone over 90 should be prioritised this week?”

“The government will argue that for Ireland, as a small country, to seek to purchase vaccines from the companies, would prove too costly, but I maintain that it would still be cheaper than keeping the country closed months after the other countries have opened up. The EU aren’t giving us enough vaccines, so we need to source more elsewhere, its a blatantly obvious solution, and one that at the very least warrants discussion and debate”, concluded Deputy Tóibín.