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35,000 to receive first Covid-19 dose this week, Health Minister says

Stephen Donnelly said 4,000 people received the vaccine in the first few days of the rollout.

Nithya Rajendran , one of the first healthcare workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Nithya Rajendran , one of the first healthcare workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
Image: Marc O'Sullivan

Updated Jan 4th 2021, 2:17 PM

THE ROLLOUT OF the country’s Covid-19 vaccination programme gets under way at nursing homes this week.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid said the residents and staff at 25 nursing homes are due to receive their first doses of the vaccine this week.

The rollout of the State’s coronavirus vaccination programme began last week when 79-year-old grandmother Annie Lynch, from Dublin, became the first person in the Republic to receive the jab on 29 December. 

“This week we’ll be starting in 25 nursing homes and 20 hospitals across the country,” Reid told RTE Radio 1’s Today with Claire Byrne.

He said they wanted to target the most vulnerable – those residents and staff in nursing homes – in the next three weeks and follow that up with the second dose in the following three weeks.

The Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said this afternoon that 4,000 people received the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 jab in the first few days of vaccinations last week. 

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s News at One, Donnelly said: “We’re scaling that up just this week to about 35,000.

“So that’s 20 hospitals, 25 nursing homes. And in the hospitals, it’s healthcare workers, frontline healthcare workers in the hospitals, in community care, and we’re working hard to make sure that GPS are included in that as well.”

Donnelly said on Saturday that all residents and staff in the country’s 580 nursing homes will receive their first dose of the vaccine by the end of the month.

There are about 70,000 people working and living in the nursing homes.

Ireland is due to receive 40,000 Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines each week this month and next month.

Reid vowed the health service would “go at pace” to deliver the rollout of the vaccine.

“Our first vaccine that we have available to us is the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. We’re looking at a projected delivery of 40,000 per week,” he said.

“We will deliver 40,000 per week.”

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He predicted that over the next six weeks the HSE would oversee the rollout of 240,000 vaccines, adding that the jab would be given to people seven days a week.

“This will be a seven-day programme utilising all the hours we have available to us in all of our healthcare settings,” Reid said.

He said the programme had started on 29 December and it had continued every day throughout the new year and that would continue.

The HSE has set a target that all nursing home residents and staff will have received both doses of the jab by the end of February. But it is expected that potential outbreaks of the virus at nursing homes could affect that target.

The latest figures show there are now 744 people in hospital with Covid-19.

A record 4,962 new cases of the virus and an additional seven deaths were confirmed on Sunday.

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