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Huge spike Coronavirus Ireland: Nine deaths and 1,546 new Covid-19 cases as vaccination begins

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Annie Lynch became the first person in the Republic of Ireland to receive the Covid 19 vaccine

Annie Lynch became the first person in the Republic of Ireland to receive the Covid 19 vaccine

Annie Lynch became the first person in the Republic of Ireland to receive the Covid 19 vaccine

A further nine people who contracted Covid-19 have died while 1,546 new Covid-19 cases were announced today.

It brings the total number of new cases to 88,439, while the death toll now stands at 2,213.

Validation of data at the Health Protection Surveillance Centre has resulted in the denotification of one death and one confirmed case.

The figures of 2,213 deaths and 88,439 confirmed cases reflects these adjustments.

As of 2pm today, 411 patients are hospitalised with Covid-19, 34 of whom are in ICU. There were 47 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

Of the cases notified today:

  • 757 are men / 788 are women
  • 66% are under 45 years of age
  • The median age is 34 years old
  • 444 in Dublin, 203 in Cork, 111 in Louth, 87 in Limerick, 85 in Donegal and the remaining 616 cases are spread across all other counties.

The latest figures come as the first doses of the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine were administered today.

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health said: “We have reached a significant milestone in our collective response to the Covid-19 pandemic in Ireland, with the launch of our national vaccination programme.

"To see the first recipients of the vaccine gives us hope for better times ahead, particularly for those of us who are the most vulnerable to the virus, including those over 70 and with underlying medical conditions.

"The vaccination programme will focus on the priority groups in line with the recent decisions of Government in the first instance."

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Annie Lynch receiving vaccine

Annie Lynch receiving vaccine

Annie Lynch receiving vaccine

A 79-year-old Dublin grandmother was the first person to receive the jab this morning at St James's Hospital in Dublin city.

Annie Lynch, who grew up in the Liberties and now lives in Drimnagh, was vaccinated alongside healthcare workers from the hospital.

Speaking today, Annie said: “I feel very privileged to be the first person in Ireland to receive the vaccine. Like everyone else I have been waiting for the vaccine and I really feel like there is a bit of hope there now. It’s brilliant that it’s here. Everything was explained very clearly to me beforehand.”

Annie's husband, John sadly passed away in September. She has three children and 10 grandchildren.

Clinical nurse manager, Bernie Waterhouse, who works in a designated Covd-19 ward in St James's Hospital, was the first healthcare worker in Ireland to get the vaccine.

“I wanted to get the vaccine to protect myself, and the people I work with and care for every day, from Covid-19," she said.

They will each return for their second dose in three weeks.

Head of the Covid-19 vaccine task force, Professor Brian MacCraith told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland: “This is a momentous day. It is the beginning of a complex process, the beginning of the end of an awful period."

Prof MacCraith said he believes it is "very possible we will complete all vaccinations of nursing homes by February".

He said anyone in Ireland who wants the vaccine will, in a best case scenario, receive it by August.

"It'll be down to the manufacturing success of the companies, the delivery schedules ... But certainly if all things come to pass, one would be looking at that," he added.

The HSE plans all residents and staff of the country's 580 nursing homes who want the vaccine will have received it by the end of February.

Concern was raised in recent days at the slower pace of the vaccination roll-out in Ireland compared with other European countries that began immunising their most vulnerable populations on Sunday.

Dr Padraig McGarry, president of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), said last night: "While it is understandable people are anxious to see this programme begin as quickly as possible, it's critical we allow the relevant agencies to do the necessary and important preparatory work to ensure a sustainable and safe programme for the various vaccines which are becoming available over the coming months.

"The IMO will work with all parties to ensure that the vaccination programme happens as speedily and professionally as possible."

The schedule will see acute hospital staff immunised first, followed by those in long-term care facilities such as nursing homes.

An HSE spokeswoman said the programme for nursing home residents was a "highly complex process requiring the cooperation of all stakeholders".

Eighty per cent of the 580 nursing homes in the country are privately owned.

"Using centrally held information from serial testing in relation to staff and patient numbers and taking into account the required throughput per day, the HSE has issued a draft schedule to each community healthcare organisation (CHO)," the HSE spokeswoman said.

The draft schedule facilitates a "required three-week cycle and ensures that both doses are administered in an efficient manner, leading to the completion of the entire 580 nursing homes (both doses) in February".

"Each CHO will work with nursing home providers between now and next Thursday to finalise their schedules," the spokeswoman added.

Each provider must register staff members and residents who wish to take the vaccine and collect 55 individual pieces of information for each person several days before the vaccination team arrives.

"Each provider must also ensure that each staff member and each resident (and their families where appropriate) understand and give informed consent to the vaccine," the spokeswoman said.

The target completion date for all 580 public, private and voluntary nursing homes is February 28 .

Although 10,000 vaccine doses arrived in the country on Saturday, red tape over getting informed consent from people receiving the vaccine has delayed the roll-out of the jabs until today.

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