Vaccinators will travel to people’s homes if ‘absolutely necessary’ to administer jab, HSE says

Government hopeful that construction sector will be able to restart work from March 5th

The first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines, which arrived in the State at the weekend, will be given to healthcare workers today. Photograph: iStock

Vaccinators would travel to the homes of people unable to make it to Covid-19 vaccination centres if "absolutely necessary" to administer the doses, Health Service Executive (HSE) chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry has said.

Speaking on Monday, Dr Henry said “no person will be left behind” as the vaccination of those over the age of 70 begins from next week, starting with those over 85.

Administering the Covid-19 vaccine to the over-70s cohort as quickly as possible was the priority of the vaccination programme, he said.

Hospital Report

This will be carried out under a revised plan using only the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which both must be stored at ultra-low temperatures.


The HSE is to establish centres in about 40 locations across the country to provide vaccines to the wider population in the weeks ahead. It is envisaged at this stage that there will be major facilities in Cork, Waterford, Sligo, Galway, Limerick and Athlone as well as on Dublin’s northside and southside.

The HSE is also looking at smaller centres in Mullingar, Longford, Ennis, Nenagh, Bantry and Tralee.

Dr Henry said the majority of people will be able to travel directly to either their GP’s clinic or a vaccination centre, but the HSE would ensure vaccinators would go to “everybody’s home if absolutely necessary.”

There would have to be “agility and flexibility” with the plan to roll out the vaccines through family doctor practices, he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme.

Last week the Republic's vaccination plan had to be hastily reworked after chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan advised that over 70s should be given the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, rather than the AstraZeneca shot.

This followed uncertainty around the level of data on the effectiveness of the recently approved AstraZeneca vaccine within that older age group.

When asked if information on the AstraZeneca vaccine changed, would it then be given to the over-70s, Dr Henry said that there was positive information coming through all the time. He said if advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) changed, that plans would be adjusted accordingly.

Unlike other approved vaccines to date, AstraZeneca doses can be kept at normal refrigerated temperatures, making it easier to store and transport.

The first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines, which arrived in the State at the weekend, will be given to healthcare workers today.


The Government is hopeful that the construction sector will be able to restart work from March 5th, in a partial easing of strict lockdown restrictions.

Speaking on Monday, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien said the Government was working towards reopening the sector in four weeks’ time.

“We want the sector to open as quickly and as safely as possible . . . It is essential in my view,” he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show.

There was a loss of 700 to 800 new houses being built every week while the sector remained closed, he said.

Construction sites had previously shown they were able to operate safely, and Mr O’Brien said he was confident that they would reopen on March 5th.

In late January the Government extended current Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions until March 5th, although it is expected the majority of restrictions to curb the spread of the virus will be extended again beyond that point.

Construction sites have been closed for a number of weeks, with exceptions for essential health infrastructure and social housing projects.

Vaccine refusal

Speaking on Monday, HSE chief executive Paul Reid said it was "inexcusable" that staff in some nursing homes had refused to take the Covid-19 vaccine.

The take up among residents in nursing homes had been almost 100 per cent and was in the “high 90s” for staff, he told Newstalk Breakfast.

Where a staff member refused the vaccine the nursing home would carry out a risk assessment, and if the employee was in a patient facing role then they would have to be moved to another position, he said.

Meanwhile, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney on Sunday warned if the common travel area between the UK and Ireland was being abused by passengers using Dublin Airport as a "back door" into Britain, the Government would "sort it out".

This followed a report that people unable to fly directly into Britain from locations such as Dubai and Portugal, due to the suspension of direct flights, were travelling through Dublin.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent