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lift-off Timeline for roll-out of Covid vaccine across all age groups expected next week

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Paul Reid plans to draw up forecast. Photo: Leah Farrell

Paul Reid plans to draw up forecast. Photo: Leah Farrell

Paul Reid plans to draw up forecast. Photo: Leah Farrell

A timeline for the expected roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines to remaining age groups is expected next week.

The news comes amid growing evidence that the jabs are turning the tide in the fight against the virus.

More than two million doses of the vaccine have been administered as of yesterday, signalling an important milestone in the roll-out and the fight against Covid.

Around one in seven people are now fully vaccinated with two doses.

HSE chief Paul Reid said he hopes to draw up an indicative forecast of which people in their forties and younger could expect to be offered a jab, although this is reliant on the promised deliveries of ­vaccines arriving.

He was speaking amid optimism that the green light will be given to administer more than 200,000 doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson jab to people aged 45 to 50 from next month.

If the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) also lowers the age for administration of the AstraZeneca jab – and it is endorsed by chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan and his team – it would further quicken the pace of the roll out.

HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said yesterday that as of May 12 some 38pc of the adult population had received their first dose of the vaccine and 14pc were fully vaccinated.

“We have seen a 95pc drop in daily cases from January’s peak of 8,248 to 448 new cases yesterday,” he said.

“In the last four weeks there have been 165 cases among those aged 75 years and over, compared to 6,793 in the first four weeks of January.

“Last week there were just 16 cases.

“Twenty-three of the confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the over-65s were known to have been hospitalised last week,” he added.

“This is a big drop from the January peak of 942 cases of over-65s hospitalised.

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“We have been averaging zero to one outbreak per week in nursing homes over the last six weeks.

“Only one outbreak was recorded in nursing homes last week compared to January’s peak of 47.”

He said the level of harm the virus is doing, particularly among vaccinated groups, “is at a level like we were seeing in July or August, when there was a fraction of the number of cases we’re seeing now”.

“This is because of the ­vaccine effect,” he said.

“It has broken the link between the number of cases per day which are so high, and the harm that’s been done by those cases – as it translates into illness, hospitalisation, intensive care admissions and all the havoc it has wreaked in healthcare settings, particularly nursing homes and hospitals.”

Vaccination data among various age groups show it is 98pc among the over-85s, 100pc in 75- to 84-year-olds and 93pc in 65- to 74-year-olds.

More than one in two people aged 55 to 64 have received a first dose, as have 23pc of 45- to 54-year-olds. Some 14pc of 20- to 44-year-olds have had a first dose and 1pc of people aged under 19.

The younger people would have received a vaccine due to underlying illness or through their work in the health service front line.

The aim is to administer 260,000 to 280,000 vaccines next week.

Around 650,000 people in their 60s and 50s have registered for a vaccine on the HSE portal, including around 33,000-35,000 daily.

It remains open to people in both these age groups in the coming weeks.

People in their 50s could be offered any one of the four different vaccines now available including the Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson jab.

Meanwhile, people with underlying illness who are at high risk or very high risk of Covid-19 and whose GPs are not involved in the vaccination programme are to be offered a referral pathway from this weekend.

This will allow GPs to refer a patient to a vaccination centre if they are not administering vaccines themselves.

Meanwhile, Dr Henry said the number of Covid cases of children from school outbreaks is a small fraction of the total number of children of school-going age.

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