Ireland is aiming for extensive vaccination against COVID-19 by mid-2021

DUBLIN, Dec 15 (Reuters) – Everyone in Ireland who wants a COVID-19 vaccine should be able to get one by the middle of next year, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Tuesday.

Inoculations among the most vulnerable of the 4.9 million Irish are due to begin seven to 10 days after the European Union’s drug regulator approves the first shot, Coveney said after the government approved a launch plan.

That raised the possibility that the program will begin before the end of the year after the bloc’s regulator on Tuesday advanced a decision on the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine until December 21st.

“I believe that for sure in the middle of next year we will very much hope that the vaccine will be available to everyone who wants it,” Coveney told national broadcaster RTE.

The government unveiled last week who will receive vaccines first, prioritizing residents of the elderly, those over 65 and health workers in the initial phase.

Ireland currently has the lowest effective rate of COVID-19 in the European Union after it moved early to temporarily close shops, bars and restaurants, which, unlike much of Europe, will remain largely open throughout December.

Prime Minister Micheál Martin said on Monday that ministers may need to reinstall some boundaries of COVID-19 in January. Cases are starting to slowly grow, before people are allowed to travel across the country again from Friday and mix with a few other homes until January 6 (Reporting by Padraic Halpin, Editing by William Maclean)