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Ireland to get first 35,000 doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine next week

Stephen Donnelly said that 1.1 million doses of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines are to be delivered by the end of March.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly
Image: Sam Boal via RollingNews.ie

Updated Feb 2nd 2021, 11:20 AM

MINISTER FOR HEALTH Stephen Donnelly has said that 35,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine are due to be delivered to Ireland next week.

He said that the vaccination rollout plan was “on track” and that over 85s would be the first group to get the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines, which would be administered at GP clinics.

“This week, the focus is on second doses for both the healthcare workers and long-term residential care. And then the plan is immediately to go back to the second group of the frontline healthcare workers and begin the first doses there,” the Minister told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today.

When asked if the second group of frontline healthcare workers would be vaccinated next week, Donnelly said it would begin “very soon”. 

At the end of March, Donnelly said that 1.1 million doses of Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines are expected to be delivered to Ireland, which means that around half a million people could be vaccinated. This is lower than the Government’s original target of 700,000 people by the end of March.

“The vaccination programme in terms of the rollout remains on track,” Donnelly said. “We’ve had 207,000 doses arrive in the country, and just very slightly less than 200,000 vaccines” have been administered.

Speaking about the current restrictions in place, though saying that the case numbers are “going in the right direction”, Donnelly said that it was “probably too early to speculate” on what would happen after 5 March.

The UK variant is now about “two in every three new cases” in Ireland, so it is the majority of cases now here, Donnelly added.

As of yesterday evening, 1,396 people with Covid-19 were in Irish hospitals including 204 people in ICU. In the 24 hours up to 8pm yesterday, 60 confirmed cases and 172 suspected Covid-19 cases were admitted to hospitals.

The hospital system has 333 ICU beds open and staffed, and 26 adult ICU beds are still free. Thirteen hospitals have no ICU beds available. Hospitals have 503 general beds (not including critical care beds) free for patients, according to the HSE.

As of Sunday, 150,500 people had received their first dose of a vaccine and 49,300 people had received their second dose.

Overall, 197,553 cases of the virus have been confirmed in Ireland to date, and 3,317 deaths.

Vaccine rollout concerns

The Irish Wheelchair Association today called on the Government to prioritise people with disabilities in the Covid vaccination rollout, amid concerns over vaccine supplies.

Michael Doyle, Director of Assisted Living in the IWA, said: “Many people with physical disabilities are at severe risk of Covid due to health conditions that could cause complications and hospitalisation, yet they have not been recognised as a vulnerable group by the Government.

“The Government must also recognise that in the absence of regular day services, many people with disabilities have been confined at home since the virus took hold last March, adding additional stress.

“People we support are eager to get the vaccine and are highly concerned about how long they will wait with vaccine supplies lower than planned.”

Doyle said the IWA is “encouraged by the Government’s commitment to supporting frontline vaccinations in the disability sector, but both sides of the equation need to be protected.”

“At the current time, people over 65 in residential settings with disabilities are rightly getting vaccinated. Yet worryingly, those living independently in the community and being assisted at home are not.”

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Meanwhile, just 298 of the 10,000 home care workers who care for elderly and vulnerable people in their own homes have been vaccinated to date, according to Home and Community Care Ireland (HCCI), the representative body of home care providers.

Joseph Musgrave, CEO of HCCI, said: “Home carers are being forgotten despite being in daily contact with the elderly and vulnerable, enabling them to remain in the safety of home. It is the moral obligation of the State to protect those in our community who most need protection.

“By failing to vaccinate carers the State is failing in this duty. Home carers are doing a tremendous job – our latest data show that, as of Sunday 24th January, just 193 home care clients, out of 20,000, are currently positive for COVID-19.

“Home care is proving resilient but we need to do all we can to support home carers’ heroic efforts in keeping the transmission rate as low as it is,” a statement noted.

With reporting by Órla Ryan

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