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Donnelly confirms people aged 70 and over to begin receiving Covid vaccine from next month

The health minister said that delivery of the Astrazeneca vaccine in March will be “considerably lower” than what was expected.

File photo. Health minister Stephen Donnelly
File photo. Health minister Stephen Donnelly
Image: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

MINISTER FOR HEALTH Stephen Donnelly has said that community vaccination of people aged 70 and over will begin next month. 

In a statement this evening, Donnelly said that the oldest people will be prioritised with people aged 85 and older to receive a vaccine first, followed by people aged 80-84, 75-79 and then 70-74.

This cohort of people will be the third group in the government’s vaccination allocation strategy to receive a Covid-19 vaccine, after care home residents over the age of 65 and frontline healthcare workers.

Due to the issues with the supply of the Astrazeneca vaccine – which is expected to receive approval for use by European authorities soon – delivery in March of this vaccine is set to be “considerably lower than what was originally stated by the company”. 

The HSE will roll out a public information campaign in the coming weeks to provide all the details in advance while, at the moment, people do not need to take any specific action to ensure they receive a vaccine.

Donnelly said: “Today we have confirmed that the community vaccination programme will begin in February, subject to regulatory approval of AstraZeneca. Despite anticipated disruption to deliveries, which was announced on Friday 22 January, Ireland will receive a delivery of AstraZeneca vaccine within the expected range for February, although at the lower end of that range.

The next stage of our vaccine programme will begin with those aged 85 years and older and will be administered initially through GPs in their surgeries. The HSE is preparing a public information campaign that will provide all necessary details in advance and ensure that everyone knows when, where and how to access their vaccine.

The minister said that the priority at the moment is to complete vaccinations for those most vulnerable. 

“Every possible nursing home resident has already received one dose and some have received second doses,” he said.

“Healthcare workers are also a priority. Second doses will be administered over the coming weeks to 77,000 healthcare workers. We will continue to roll out first and second doses to our remaining frontline healthcare workers during February.”

He said that vaccination teams were unable to vaccinate some nursing home residents and staff who had Covid-19 recently, or vaccinate those in facilities where there were particularly large outbreaks. Those people will be “prioritised and vaccinated as soon as possible,” according to the minister. 

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He added: “The HSE administered 143,000 vaccine doses to Sunday, January 24.  I would like to thank the HSE, members of the High-Level Task Force on Covid-19 Vaccination, and their teams, for the effort and commitment they are putting into the efficient roll out of the vaccine programme. 

“As we have seen in recent days, in these early stages things can change quickly and we have to build delivery around supply.  Everyone involved understands the importance of this programme to the country. Everything that can be done is being done, and will be done, to deliver it.

There is huge interest in our vaccine programme, which is very welcome. I committed recently to providing the public with daily figures, as full transparency is important. The HSE has advised that there is a backlog of figures to be inputted and validated. It is working hard to achieve full utilisation of the vaccination IT system at which point it will be in a position to provide updates.

About the author:

Sean Murray

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