Covid-19: Vaccination of over-85s gets under way across the State

More than 15,000 in cohort to get vaccine this week in 106 GP practices and DCU hub

Ireland currently ranks third in the EU for vaccine uptake, behind Malta and Slovakia, with 4.7 per cent of the population having received a first dose. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Ireland currently ranks third in the EU for vaccine uptake, behind Malta and Slovakia, with 4.7 per cent of the population having received a first dose. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

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The vaccination of over-85s in the community against Covid-19 starts this week and is expected to be completed within three weeks.

GPs will begin taking delivery this morning of vaccines, and vaccinations will start later today or tomorrow depending on arrival times.

More than 15,000 people in the over 85s age group are expected to be vaccinated this week in 106 GP practices and a hub in Dublin City University, which opens this weekend. Most will receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

The remaining 55,000 in the cohort will be vaccinated in the two weeks to follow, before the rollout moves on to the next-prioritised group, 80 to 85-year-olds.

Ireland currently ranks third in the EU for vaccine uptake, behind Malta and Slovakia, with 4.7 per cent of the population having received a first dose, according to the vaccine tracker of the European Centre for Disease Control.

In the UK, which yesterday marked 15 million first-dose vaccinations, over one-quarter of adults have been at least partially inoculated.

A further 17 deaths of Covid-19 patients were reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) on Sunday. Fifteen of the deaths date from February and one from December.

Median age

Those who died ranged in age from 50 to 92 years, and the median age was 80.

This brings to 3,948 the total number of deaths in the pandemic.

Nphet also reported 788 confirmed cases of the disease, bringing to 209,582 the total number of cases in the Republic.

Of the new cases, 315 were in Dublin, 61 in Galway, 59 in Meath, 42 in Louth and 33 in Kildare, with the remaining 278 cases spread across all other counties.

The median age of cases was 31 years, and 71 per cent were under 45.

The 14-day incidence of the disease has fallen from 277 cases per 100,000 people nationally. Monaghan has the highest county incidence, followed by Carlow.

On Sunday, 899 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised, up one on the previous day. This included 160 in ICU, down 11. There were 34 additional hospitalisations in the previous 24 hours.

As of last Thursday, 261,073 doses of Covid-19 vaccine had been administered in Ireland; this includes 171,239 people who have received their first dose, and 89,834 who have have received a second dose.

Retrospective contact tracing

Meanwhile, the Government is to introduce retrospective contact tracing of Covid-19 cases once they fall to manageable numbers, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.

Due to resource issues, retrospective contact tracing was not carried out in the first or second waves of the pandemic. However, since then, additional permanent staff have been recruited for contact tracing.

These will now be used to achieve prolonged suppression of the virus. Mr Martin told The Sunday Times.

”We need to make sure we retain the strength in our testing and tracing capacity, and that it’s a significant weapon in keeping the numbers down once we get them to very low levels,” he said.

“We don’t know what threats and challenges the virus may present in the next winter season. So right throughout 2021, we have to retain that testing and tracing capacity.”

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