Nearly 5,000 healthcare workers being vaccinated over weekend

More than 80,000 vaccinations to be completed next week, says HSE chief

Almost 5,000 Covid-19 vaccines were being administered to doctors and practice nurses at mass vaccination centres across the country over the weekend.

The Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines are being given at centres in Dublin, Portlaoise and Galway, where 1,800 GPs and nurses were expected to receive their second dose on Saturday with a further 3,000 expected to be vaccinated on Sunday.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said he is hopeful that every adult in the State could be vaccinated by September if vaccine supplies arrive as expected.

Hospital Report

Mr Donnelly also said that everybody aged over 85 will have received their first vaccine in the next three weeks, starting on Monday, apart from a small number in long-term care settings who are recovering from the virus.


About 20,000 of the just over 70,000 cohort in that age group will be vaccinated in this coming week through 84 GP practices in 20 counties with a further 384 practices vaccinating the following week and the balance in the third week.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Six One News, HSE chief executive Paul Reid said authorities would “be completing over 80,000 vaccinations next week, that’s almost double what we’ve been doing on a weekly basis to date”.

He said 13,500 people “85-year-old plus are being vaccinated in their GP practice or indeed vaccination centres. We’ll also be doing over 40,000 people who are…staff and residents of long-term care facilities, [they will be] getting their second dose, and thirdly 25,000 vaccinations of frontline healthcare workers with the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

Mr Reid also said those aged 85-plus who have not heard from their GP regarding the vaccine should not be too concerned as they can expect to be contacted very shortly.

Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week programme, Mr Donnelly declined to set a date for the lifting of restrictions after March 5th, when the level of Covid-19 curbs was due for review.

Close contacts

The number of close contacts people are having is rising, Covid-19 positive rates remain high and the percentage of new cases in Dublin is rising, Mr Donnelly said.

The Minister said deputy chief medical officer Ronan Glynn had advised him in a briefing on Thursday that “close contacts are going up again, not a lot, but they are going back up”.

“The positivity rates remain high particularly for close contacts. The percentage of new cases coming from Dublin is rising.”

Workplaces need to assist employees to “add those extra protections, particularly with the new variant”.

He added: “So it’s far too early unfortunately given all of that to give accurate predictions of when we can exit level 5.”

Asked why it would take three weeks to vaccinate 70,000 over-85s when Scotland was vaccinating 60,000 a day, Mr Donnelly said it was down to logistics and supply.

He said the change in advice to use the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for the over-70s and not the AstraZeneca one had created a major logistical challenge. “The logistics are more complex.”

A number of GPs expressed concern that hotels or parish halls are not being used when surgeries were too small to cope with the numbers of people who need vaccination.

Mr Donnelly said it was an operational decision taken by the HSE in consultation with the IMO that given the vulnerability of older age groups, they should be vaccinated in clinical settings.

Some 70 per cent are large enough to do that, he said. Some are too small and those GPs will vaccinate their patients at the larger practices, while three hubs being set up will be large operations in Dublin, Cork and Galway. – Additional reporting: PA

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times