Almost 2.9 million vaccinations administered in Ireland

HSE chief Paul Reid said 53 per cent of the adult population have had their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Almost 2.9 million vaccinations administered in Ireland

By Cate McCurry, PA

Almost 2.9 million coronavirus vaccinations have now been administered in Ireland, the head of the Health Service Executive has confirmed.

Paul Reid said 53 per cent of the adult population have had their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Almost 900,000 people have received their second dose, which amounts to around 25 per cent of the population.

The HSE chief executive said GPs are on target to administer 1.37 million vaccinations by the end of the weekend.

The HSE is also assessing a recommendation to reduce the interval period between AstraZeneca jabs from 12 weeks to eight.

Mr Reid said a recommendation will be made to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly in the coming days on how the HSE will bring in any changes to the vaccine rollout.

He described it as “version 29” of the programme.

The HSE received a letter from chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan on Wednesday night about advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC).

“One of the key considerations in this correspondence that we received is to give consideration to second dose again of AstraZeneca and consider the second dose being administered in an eight- to 12-week period,” Mr Reid said.

“We’re now assessing that correspondence and we’re going to look at the modelling now of assessing how we would potentially move to that and assessing the impacts and assessing the opportunity it sets out for us.”

Almost 132,000 Covid-19 tests were carried out last week, according to the latest figures.

Community referrals increased last week to almost 10 per cent compared with the previous week.

However, the positivity rates remain low at around three per cent, Mr Reid said.

Almost 2,000 swab tests have been carried out on staff and guests at the mandatory hotel quarantine facilities.

Of those, some 224 positive cases were detected.

Meanwhile, Dublin City Council is to provide portable toilets and extra bins in the city centre from this bank holiday weekend.

The council’s Recovery Task Force manager confirmed that 150 toilets, 54 large bins and 80 barrel bins will be dotted across the city.

The decision was welcomed by Lord Mayor Hazel Chu.

She tweeted: “Also I know this is an unpopular opinion but can I say a big thank you to (Dublin City Council) and all its staff.

“They do try and work very hard. And they get a lot of grief from us all (including me) and I wanted to just say thanks for listening.”

Earlier, Simon Harris said some councils need to “up their game” in preparing for an outdoor summer and providing spaces and facilities for people to meet.

The Further and Higher Education Minister said a number of local authorities have not done a good job ahead of the reopening of society over the next few months.

He made the comments after the Office of Public Works (OPW) closed the Victorian Bandstand in St Stephen’s Green, Dublin.

Fencing was erected around the site on Wednesday.

The OPW said it closed the “vulnerable” historic feature to protect it from vandalism and anti-social behaviour.

“In order to protect the historic bandstand from any further damage, a decision was taken to erect fencing to protect the structure,” the OPW said.

Mr Harris said that, as outdoor dining reopens next week, there will be more places for people to meet.

“I think our councils really need to up their game in this regard, and we’ve seen some very good examples,” he said.

“I’ve seen, for example, in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, they seem to have actually done a very good job of preparing; some clearly haven’t.

“I do think we’re going to be at a different situation when the reopening of outdoor dining and outdoor pubs and bars starts from Monday.

“I think what happened last weekend, we had really good weather, we had lots of people who wanted to meet up and see people outdoors, they’ve been told outdoors was safer, and they didn’t have many places to go. That caused congregation.

“So, rather than finger-wagging, I think we have to look at how do we actually better prepare for that, how do local authorities better prepare, and I do think, as we see more places open now, there will be more places for people to meet.”

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