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tall order 400,000 flu jabs for adults arrive to meet high demand

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Close-up of doctors hands giving an injection

Close-up of doctors hands giving an injection

Close-up of doctors hands giving an injection

Another 400,000 doses of the flu vaccine for adults have arrived and will be distributed to GPs and pharmacies to meet the high demand for the jab this season, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said yesterday.

Many people are still on waiting lists for the vaccine which came in different consignments and was delayed due to manufacturing difficulties.

He said 300,000 of the nasal spray vaccine had been delivered and a further 300,000 are due.

The minister was appearing before the Oireachtas health committee where he also said the “unambiguous” advice he has received is that visors “don’t work” as a protection against Covid-19 and people need to wear face coverings.

Earlier he told the committee that demand for Covid-19 testing has fallen by 40pc in the past week amid signs the spread of the virus is reducing.

Work is ongoing on trialling alternative tests to the PCR test which is now being used to diagnose the virus, he said.

The PCR test costs around €200 each time whereas antigen tests are much cheaper and have a faster turnaround.

He said: ”By moving early and comprehensively, Ireland is currently bucking the trend being seen in many other parts of Europe. The 14-day rate in France for example is 830. In Spain it is 567. With our neighbours, the UK, it is 469.

“While our figures are hopeful, the number of positive cases remain a serious concern. We have seen almost 11,000 cases reported in the past 14 days. We must continue to actively suppress this virus to the greatest extent possible.

“Part of this response comes from our testing and tracing system. Ireland’s testing rates are highest by international standards. And we continue to run serial testing in nursing homes and food production facilities.

“As the committee will be aware the HSE initially put in place capacity to meet the National Public Health Emergency Team’s advice for up to 100,000 tests per week. I met with the HSE some time ago to request additional capacity. “

He said to that end capacity was recently increased to up to 120,000 tests per week. I’m delighted to be able to share with the committee that as of this week the HSE can now do up to 140,000 a week.

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