135,000 people to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ireland by March

135,000 people to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ireland by March

Micheal Martin said more than 35,000 people would be given the Pfizer BioNTech jab this week alone.

The Taoiseach has said more than 135,000 people will be vaccinated with two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine in Ireland by the end of February.

Micheál Martin said more than 35,000 people would be given the Pfizer BioNTech jab this week alone.

His comments come as criticism mounts from the opposition over the speed of the rollout of the State's coronavirus vaccination programme.

So far, 4,000 people have received the vaccine since the first dose was administered on December 29.

The rollout of the country's nursing home vaccination programme gets under way this week.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio's News at One, Mr Martin did not accept that the rollout of the vaccination programme was slow, saying: "I wouldn't use that phrase so slow to get under way.

"We will deliver the vaccination programme in accordance with the supply chain. As we get vaccines, we will be injecting.

"By the end of February, we will have up to 135,000 people vaccinated with the two doses. That involves 75,000 people in long-term care facilities, both residents and staff, and up to about 60,000 frontline health care workers.

Mr Martin described the growth of community transmission rates of Covid-19 as "very very serious", adding it had "exceeded any expectation".

But Mr Martin said: "There is light at the end of the tunnel, that's the point really. Whereas, over the last, the early phases of this, it was indefinite, we now have vaccines.

"More vaccines will come on stream. We will be in a different position by the summertime of that I have no doubt.

"We can get through this and we will get through this."

On Monday Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the rollout was "accelerating quite quickly".

He said the 35,000 doses is an increase from 20,000 that was originally planned, due to an early shipment of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

The first rollout of the vaccine in care homes was due to start on Monday, however it was delayed due to issues with consent forms.

Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) has said there can be no further room for slippages or delays in delivering the Covid-19 vaccination programme to nursing homes.

Around 16 care homes are set to receive the jab on Thursday.

About 75,000 people working and living in nursing homes will receive their first dose in the next three weeks and that will be followed up with the second dose in the following three weeks.

The HSE boss Paul Reid has said doses of the vaccine will be given seven days a week.

The rollout of the State's coronavirus vaccination programme began last week when 79-year-old grandmother Annie Lynch, from Dublin, became the first person in the Republic to receive the jab on December 29.

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