Ireland sees less than half population vaccinated for COVID by mid-year

·1-min read
Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Galway

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland hopes to vaccinate up to 2.2 million people against COVID-19 by the end of June, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said on Wednesday, less than half of the country's population of 4.9 million.

The government plans to vaccinate 700,000 people by the end of March, including staff and residents at long-term residential care, frontline healthcare workers and those over 70, Donnelly told parliament.

A further 1.5 million will be vaccinated in the second quarter of the year with at least that number again in the three months to the end of September, Donnelly said.

"These numbers are highly provisional. They include delivery schedules for vaccines that are still to be approved," he said.

Ireland had the fastest-growing incidence rate in the European Union last week, fuelled by a relaxation of restrictions ahead of Christmas and the increasing prevalence of a new, more transmissible COVID-19 variant first discovered in England.

(Reporting by Conor Humphries; editing by Philippa Fletcher)