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local jabs Pharmacies will offer Covid-19 vaccines within weeks says Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly

It will mean a trip to the local chemist for a jab instead of a long drive to a vaccination centre

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Pharmacies will begin providing Covid jabs within weeks — sparing long journeys for people living in remote areas.

It will mean a trip to the local chemist for a jab instead of a long drive to a large-scale vaccination centre.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the news, “as of just a few hours ago” was that pharmacies and pharmacists would be allowed to administer doses from early June

He said their approved role was something he had been pushing “from day one.”

It will make life easier for tens of thousands of people. In Galway, one of Ireland’s largest counties in terms of area, there is just one vaccination centre, at Ballybrit racecourse.

It has meant a drive of three and a half hours for some people living in remote Connemara when called to their vaccination, the Minister was told in the Seanad.

He replied: “I’ve engaged with the HSE every week on this, and pharmacists are will be playing a role very soon — from early June.

“As of just a few hours ago that's the update, and I think it's particularly important for some areas that are further from the vaccination centres.

“I think it's very good news.”

Minister Donnelly also referred to what happened over the weekend in three cities, when huge crowds gathered in Cork, Dublin and Galway.

He said: “It is a facet, I think, of urban living more than rural living.

“People have been cooped up for a very long time. It's been a brutal year for a lot of people, and I don't subscribe to the idea that is has been harder for any one generation than it has for others.

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“Yes, younger people have had a brutal time, and time that they should be out socialising they were not. Plenty of older people have had a brutal time as well, and been been every single day in fear of their own life.

“I think we all understand why what happened over the weekend did happen. We all get it, we all understand it. And I think the apparatus of the State needs to do everything it can to facilitate safe outdoor social interaction. That's the message.

“And at the same time, we need individuals to continue to take responsibility for their own actions, which people have done and continue to do — whether they're 22 or 82, it doesn't matter.”

He warned however: “We’re not out of the woods yet, and the concerns that have been raised with me are are driven by concern for the people themselves who we're seeing out there.

“This virus is highly contagious. We’re dealing with an Indian variant which is even more contagious.

“And even for younger people, who are more resilient to this disease, but who have not been vaccinated, there is very sobering evidence around long covid.

“It means serious health impacts for people no matter what age they are. And so any expressions that I've seen emanating from the Department of Health have been driven by concern for the people involved.

“So that's it, that's my view on this. We have got to where we are now through collective action and solidarity. We have gt to keep minding each other.

“It's not a problem if people meet up outside. It's good if people are meeting up outside. We've just got to watch how we do it, and the apparatus of the State needs to facilitate that in every way it can.”

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