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Covid-19 vaccine rollout begins today at four Irish hospitals

A 79-year-old patient named Annie will be the first person to receive the vaccine.

Image: Shutterstock/Mongkolchon Akesin

THE ROLLOUT OF the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine will begin today at four acute hospitals in the Republic of Ireland.

A small number of vaccines will be administered at Beaumont and St James’ hospitals in Dublin as well as Cork and Galway university hospitals.

An initial 10,000 doses of the vaccine arrived in the country on St Stephen’s Day and have been in cold storage since then. 

The first doses will be delivered to the hospitals around lunchtime today before being administered to frontline staff and some patients.

Professor Brian MacCraith, chair of the Government’s vaccine rollout taskforce, believes it’s “very possible” that vaccinations will be rolled out in all nursing homes by the end of February.

But speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland Programme this morning, he said that the very first dose will be administered to a 79-year-old patient in St James’ Hospital at 1.30pm today.

“Among the first to receive the vaccine will be — very appropriately — an ICU staff nurse; a staff nurse from the Covid Ward; a junior doctor and an allied health professional as well,” Professor MacCraith said.

“But the very first person to receive the vaccination is a patient called Annie. I won’t give her full name.

“She’s 79. She was born in Christchurch, and grew up in the Liberties. Sadly, her husband passed away earlier this year and just four weeks before her admission in October. She has 10 grandchildren, one of whom works in the ICT department at St James’.

“I’m told that she is delighted to be getting the vaccine and feels very privileged to be the first person.”

Professor MacCraith said that in the first few weeks of the rollout, half of the doses will be held back until there is regularity of supply.

“The approach we’re taking initially — because these are dual-dose vaccines — just until we get absolute certainty about regularity of supply, we will hold back 50% in the initial weeks,” he said.

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“Now, we’re expecting that that regularity will happen. And we’re getting more and more assurances from Pfizer in that regard. But, in the coming weeks, we will be growing the numbers.”

MacCraith also expressed hope that by the end of August, everyone in Ireland who wants to be vaccinated against Covid-19 will have received a vaccine.

Although “it’s impossible to be absolutely precise” at the moment, he said that in “one very positive scenario” modelled by the taskforce, Ireland would be receiving an average of 530,000 doses of the vaccine by August.

“And we’d be ready to deploy those vaccines,” he said.

“So I think certainly if all things come to pass… in terms of expected approval rates and expected delivery schedules, one would be looking at that stage of being very close or at the point of closing out the actual vaccination of as much of the population of Ireland that want the vaccine.”

More to follow…

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