The Government aims to “keep moving forward” with its plan to reopen Ireland amid “very positive” Covid vaccine impact data.
In an update on the State’s vaccine rollout after a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the Government said a record 250,000 to 270,000 vaccines would be distributed this week.
Last week saw the highest weekly total of 235,000 doses distributed, and the passing of the milestone of 500,000 people fully vaccinated. Over 1.8 million vaccines have been administered and a third of Ireland’s adult population has received one dose.
“We continue to progress through the stages of recovery from the pandemic. Thanks to the efforts of the Irish people, we are keeping the virus under control, the vaccine programme is gaining momentum and we are in a position to progress with the gradual and safe reopening of our economy and society,” a Government statement said.
“This week sees a number of restrictions lifted, with an emphasis on outdoor activities and a moderate increase in social contact. Our aim is to keep moving forward, with the full reopening of retail from next Monday, May 17th and further restrictions lifted in early June.”
The Government update said over 269,000 first doses have now been administered to those aged 60 to 69.
With registration opening for those aged 50 to 59 on a staggered basis, the last of the cohort, those aged 50, will be invited to register for their vaccine from this Thursday, May 13th.
Of the doses to be distributed this week, it is planned that 80,000 to 90,000 will go to over-70s through GPs, 50,000 to 60,000 will go to very high-risk and high-risk groups through hospital groups and GPs, and 120,000 will go to those aged 50 to 69 through mass vaccination centres.
The Government said the vaccine programme was having “a very positive impact, with decreases in serious illness, hospitalisations and deaths from the virus.”
Based on data up to the week ending May 1st, it said there had been 212 Covid cases among those aged 75 years or over in the last four weeks — compared to 6,793 in the first four weeks of January and 1,677 in February.
“Significant protection is now in place for those in older and more vulnerable groups and the number of cases in long-term residential care, healthcare settings and among healthcare workers is now greatly reduced,” the Government statement added.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health is continuing to consider revisions to the vaccine rollout plan, based on recommendations from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) on the use of the AstraZeneca and Janssen vaccines in those under 50.