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jab latest First doses of Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine expected in Ireland this Saturday

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A nurse administers the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to a man at a vaccination centre. Photo: Justin Tallis/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

A nurse administers the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to a man at a vaccination centre. Photo: Justin Tallis/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

REUTERS

A nurse administers the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to a man at a vaccination centre. Photo: Justin Tallis/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

The Republic of Ireland is expected to get around 9,750 doses of the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in the first consignment which could possibly arrive as early as Saturday, St Stephen’s Day.

People over 65 in long-term care and frontline health workers will be offered the vaccines first.

The doses of the vaccine are due to be transported from Belgium to Dublin by Pfizer.

It means that the first vaccinations could be administered early next week .

The EU wants vaccinations to be rolled out across the EU from December 27 , 28 or 29.

It is understood that all EU countries will get the same volume of vaccine in the first consignment.

The vaccine is given in two doses three weeks apart.

The HSE said last week it will give out all the initial doses and wait for more supplies to give people the second dose.

Europe's medicines regulator on Monday approved the use of the Covid-19 vaccine jointly developed by US company Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, putting Europe on course to start inoculations within a week.

European Union countries including Germany, Austria and Italy have said they plan to start vaccinations from December 27 as Europe tries to catch up with the United States and Britain where the roll-out began earlier this month.

The EMA has said there is no evidence so far to suggest the vaccine will not be effective against the new variant found largely in Southeast England that has triggered a travel ban in and out of the UK just four days before Christmas.

Having gained the green light from the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the final step is approval by the European Commission, which is expected in the coming days. The Commission typically follows the EMA's advice.

Preparations for the vaccine rollout come as the identification of a highly infectious new strain of the coronavirus in Britain caused chaos across the region, with countries shutting off travel ties with the UK and disrupting trade ahead of the Christmas holiday.

The pandemic has killed about 470,000 Europeans and is picking up pace in the winter months, crushing economies in the process. Many governments have imposed tighter restrictions on households to try to curb a second wave of infections and avoid overwhelming healthcare systems.

Commission head Ursula von der Leyen had already targeted the start of vaccinations over the Dec. 27-29 period.

Student medics, retired doctors, pharmacists and soldiers are being drafted into a European vaccination campaign of unprecedented scale.

A phased-in approach means frontline healthcare workers and elderly residents of care homes are being prioritised, with most national schemes not reaching the general public until the end of the first quarter of 2021 at the earliest.

The goal of the 27-member EU is to reach coverage of 70pc of its 450 million people.

The drugs regulator in Switzerland on Saturday authorised the vaccine for use in people aged over 16.

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