European regulators are planning to meet next Monday - which is earlier than planned - to discuss approval of the Pfizer vaccine.
The Health Minister Stephen Donnelly says that could mean the initial rollout of vaccines starting here by the end of the year.
But Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has warned people not to drop their guard just because a vaccine is on the way.
It comes as a further 8 deaths and 329 new cases of the virus were recorded yesterday.
This includes 9 new cases in Mayo, and less than 5 in counties Sligo, Galway and Roscommon.
Mayo's 14-day incidence rate of the virus is at 108 per 100,000 people - higher than the national average of 84 per 100,000.
All other Connacht counties have 14-day rates well below the national average.