• Tue. Aug 16th, 2022

Head of vaccine task force says by August, anyone who wants vaccine, will have it

Dec 29, 2020

A 79-year-old Dublin grandmother will be the first person in the State to receive the coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday afternoon.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will start to be administered at St Jamess and Beaumont hospitals in Dublin, Cork University Hospital and University Hospital Galway from today.
The first person in the Republic to receive the vaccine will be Annie (79), who grew up in the Liberties and will be inoculated at St James hospital in Dublin. This is expected to happen at about 1.30pm, according to the head of the vaccine task force, professor Brian MacCraith.
This is a momentous day. It is the beginning of a complex process, the beginning of the end of an awful period, he told RTÉ radios Morning Ireland.
Among those who will be the first to receive the vaccine will be an ICU staff nurse, a Covid ward nurse, a junior doctor and an allied health professional, professor MacCraith added.
Currently there are just less than 10,000 doses of the two-step Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine in the country. Some 30,000 more are due to arrive today.
Two doses of the vaccine are required for every person, so 10,000 doses are required to vaccinate 5,000 people.
This will be followed by 40,000 a week throughout January and early February. The plan is to vaccinate 20,000 people a week from early January, with this increasing to 40,000 over the course of the month and into February.
He explained the reason half the doses that arrived in the country on December 26th had been held back was to ensure that they have sufficient quantities to administer the required second dose.
This was a precaution and once supply chains, manufacturing schedules and delivery dates have been confirmed we will never hold back the vaccine, he said.
There had been some difficulties around the supply of the vaccine in other countries which explained the caution, he said. We want to get to a situation where we can use the 40,000 doses as soon as possible, he said.
Prof MacCraith said when the AstraZeneca vaccine becomes available it will be a game changer, because it does not have to be stored at super low temperatures.
By August he expected that anyone who wanted the vaccine would have it.
A recent poll had indicated that over 70 per cent of the population would be prepared to take the vaccine, with only one in ten saying that they would not.
A communications campaign to provide reassurance and address concerns would play an important role in the coming months, he said.
The first phase of the rollout will focus on frontline healthcare workers and older people in long term residential care settings, such as nursing homes.
The plan to vaccinate more than 580 nursing homes will commence on January 11th, but some vaccinations in care homes will take place the week beforehand.
It is expected to take until the end of February to administer two doses of the vaccine to the 70,000 residents and staff in the vulnerable sector.
Initially the vaccination of those in nursing homes will be undertaken by 180 community healthcare vaccinators.
The HSE has said a further 1,500 vaccinators are to become available in the acute hospital system as the rollout plan picks up pace.
The second phase of the vaccine rollout will include doses being administered to cohorts of the general public, according to priority group, by General Practitioners, pharmacists, and in mass vaccination centres.
Today, a great beacon of light starts to shine, as we commence our vaccination programme, HSE chief executive Paul Reid wrote on Twitter.
Lets all galvanise and unite behind this. It will take time but stay positive, stay safe, stick with us and we will get there.
The indications are that Modernas vaccine, which is also complex to administer, may be approved as early as January 6th. There will be upwards of 300,000 doses delivered to the State before the end of February, more than enough to immunise the entire nursing home sector.
Next in line to be vaccinated after that are people aged 70 and above; other healthcare workers; people aged 65-69; key workers; people at risk due to medical conditions; and those living or working in crowded conditions.
This will be followed by people working in education; those aged 55-64; workers in other occupations important to the functioning of society; people aged between 18 and 54; and, finally, pregnant women and those under 18.