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Nearly 10,000 vaccines arrive in Ireland with four days to go to first vaccination

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 has arrived in Ireland.

Updated Dec 26th 2020, 1:14 PM

THE FIRST DELIVERY of a vaccine against Covid-19 has arrived into the country today, with vaccinations to begin from next week.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly confirmed that the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has arrived into Ireland ahead of the upcoming vaccinations.

He also heralded the arrival of the vaccines as a “positive step forward” after a challenging year.

“The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine Comirnaty was rigorously tested by the European Medicines Agency and was found to be safe and effective,” he said.

“It is a massive achievement by the scientific and medical communities. This vaccine will save many lives.”

Donnelly earlier tweeted a picture of himself beside the country’s first delivery of vaccines.

“When is a fridge worth photographing? When it’s just had Ireland’s first #Covid vaccines put in it. The first doses have just arrived and many of them are sitting in that very, very cold fridge,” Donnelly wrote on Twitter.

“We’ll begin vaccinating in four days. #holdfirm,” he said.

Tweet by @Stephen Donnelly Source: Stephen Donnelly/Twitter

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the arrival of the vaccines made today “a day of great hope”.

Meanwhile, HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid said the delivery of the vaccine would provide another method – along with continued social distancing and hygiene measures – of tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This delivery is a welcome sight at what is a very difficult time in our efforts to curb the devastating impact of Covid-19,” he said.

“It represents hope for us all as we move into a New Year, but we must remember, we all still have our part to play.”

The Cabinet was told earlier this week that around 10,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine would be delivered to Ireland after Christmas following the European Commission’s formal authorisation of the vaccine.

The HSE has confirmed to TheJournal.ie that 9,750 vaccines were scheduled to arrive today. 

Tens of thousands more doses are expected to arrive into the country from early January.

Chair of the vaccine taskforce Brian MacCraith said that the arrival marked a “new dawn of hope” in the fight against Covid-19.

“After a truly horrible year, the arrival of vaccines today represent a bright new dawn of hope. Vaccination is a gateway of opportunity for Irish people to protect themselves against this awful virus,” MacCraith said.

“The initial delivery (equal across all EU 27) is now in place at -71 deg C.”

Tweet by @Brian MacCraith Source: Brian MacCraith/Twitter

The vaccine, which needs to be kept at -70 degrees Celsius, requires specialised storage infrastructure.

Nine ultra-low temperature fridges were delivered to Ireland at the start of the month and stored in Citywest in anticipation of the vaccine.

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Earlier today, chief executive of the HSE Paul Reid announced that he was accepting a delivery of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine today for the HSE.

“An early morning start to a momentous day. Heading off to take receipt of the first delivery of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for the HSE,” Reid said.

“There will be better days ahead for sure. For now, #StaySafe,” he said.

Residents of long-term care facilities over the age of 65 and frontline healthcare workers in direct contact with patients are first in line to be vaccinated.

Under the plan for the rollout of the vaccine, people aged 85 and older and those aged 70 and older will be next to receive the vaccine, followed by other healthcare workers and people aged between 65 and 69.

Residents of nursing homes should receive their two doses of the vaccine by “some time in February”, according to Donnelly.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that the country is “mobilising an unprecedented national effort” to rollout the vaccine. 

“Vaccinating millions of people will take time, and in the meantime, we have to be very vigilant,” Martin said. 

“We cannot go any faster than we are allowed by the supply of the vaccines and the dosing schedule required for them to be effective.”

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