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jab latest 'Big day' as first doses of AstraZeneca vaccine arrives in Dublin

HSE boss Paul Reid has said expectations are now that all over 70s will be vaccinated by the middle of April.

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The HSE received the first delivery of AstraZeneca today Pic: Marc O'Sullivan

The HSE received the first delivery of AstraZeneca today Pic: Marc O'Sullivan

The HSE received the first delivery of AstraZeneca today Pic: Marc O'Sullivan

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has hailed today as a “big day” after the first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Dublin.

The Minister shared a video of the doses on their way to a national cold chain store in Dublin on social media, writing: “HSE has just sent me this video of the first 21,600 doses of AstraZeneca arriving this afternoon from Belgium to the national cold chain store in Dublin.

“First doses to be given to healthcare workers on Monday…well done to all.”

HSE boss Paul Reid has said expectations are now that all over 70s will be vaccinated by the middle of April.

The HSE had initially estimated that this demographic would be vaccinated by the end of March, but Mr Reid said this timeline would be pushed out.

"When we look at the supply that we currently have, we now have to carry out a vaccination of this age cohort - 70 plus - with two vaccines as opposed to three, because we won't be using the Astra Zeneca,” he said.

“Based on that supply it will bring us into the middle of April.

"But we'll see, maybe we are in a position, if we do get further supply or increased supply of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, we would of course be able to bring that back earlier."

The first of a number of large-scale Covid-19 vaccination centres where GP practices will come together to administer the Pfizer and Moderna jabs will be established in Dublin City University (DCU).

The Dublin university will be just one of several centres that will to be set up across the country as part of the rollout to over-70s.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast with Susan Keogh today, Dr Denis McCauley from the Irish Medical Organisation said there is a "relative shortage in supply" of the three vaccines.

He said the main issues with the Pfizer and Moderna inoculations is that they are "more delicate to handle" and harder to transport.

"The plan is that 70pc of all GP practices will be able to have the vaccine delivered directly to them," Dr McCauley said.

"But the important thing on top of that is that 70pc represents a significantly higher amount of the patients in Ireland.

"I would say well over 80 to 85pc of patients who are 85 will go to their GPs to get the vaccine.

"They will still ring and make the appointment with their GP as planned, it's just that we have to work harder to deliver this slightly more technical vaccine to them."

Dr McCauley said that for people over 70 whose GP has a small practice that may not be able to administer the immunisation due to technical issues, the patient and doctor will go to a larger practice as part of a buddy system.

"The GP will ring the GP with the bigger practice and say, 'When you're getting your vaccine, can I buddy up to you?', and will go and that's what will happen," he said.

"A lot of these smaller practices tend to be concentrated in the city, for instance, there's 120 GPs in Dublin that have 2,000 over-85s so you're talking about, in reality, very small amounts.

"But if you're a patient in that practice that's still important to you.

"You will probably go to a centralised area like a hub, there's a plan for those 120 practices in Dublin to go to DCU probably not next week but the week after and the GP and patient will go to that type of infrastructure."

"I would expect that quite soon, and I won't be a hostage to fortune about which vaccine it will be, but there will be vaccines mobile and available to GPs in the short term," he added.


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