HSE welcomes EMEA authorisation of Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for use in EU

“This is an important development - but we must remember the vaccine is not our first line of defence – nor will it be for some months to come,” CEO Paul Reid


The HSE today, Monday 21 December 2020, welcomes the European Medicines Agency’s decision to give conditional marketing authorisation to the Pfizer BioNTech coronavirus vaccine BNT162b2.

This followed an extraordinary meeting of the EMA’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) held today.


It is expected that the European Commission will now fast track its decision-making process with a view to granting a full marketing authorisation, valid in all EU and EEA Member States, within days.

Once granted the rollout of the vaccine across the EU can begin. HSE preparations for the vaccination programme are ongoing, working with the High Level Task Force chaired by Prof. Brian McCraith.

HSE, CEO, Paul Reid said of today’s development: “We welcome this important step towards the rollout of a national Covid-19 vaccination programme in Ireland.

“Our health service teams, staff, experts and suppliers will be playing a central role in many aspects of rolling out this national programme and I want to thank them for their continuing hard work.”

“While this development is very positive and offers some hope at the end of what has been a very tough year for many people, it is really important that all of us keep in mind that the vaccine is not our first line of defence against COVID-19 for now, nor will it be for some time to come.”

“Recent events have shown us how quickly this virus can spread and how devastating that can be for our loved ones. We’ve seen how quickly an increase in cases can translate to illness, to pressures in our hospitals and to pressures in Intensive Care Units. For now everyone in Ireland should focus on maintaining the prevention and protective actions that have become part of how we are all working and living.”

Dr Lucy Jessop, Director of Public Health at the National Immunisation Office (NIO), said: “The EMA conditional market authorisation for the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is a crucial milestone in our efforts to suppress Covid-19, one the NIO along with many other colleagues within and outside the HSE have been preparing for diligently.”

“The HSE has a proven track record in vaccine rollout. The MMR vaccine, which protects children against mumps, measles and rubella, has an uptake rate of over 90% and the HPV vaccination rate, protecting first year girls and boys from HPV related cancers, is over 80% for the first dose in academic year 2019-20.

“We have seen successes in our vaccination programmes due to trusted and accurate medical expertise being to the fore in all we do.”


Last updated on: 22 / 12 / 2020