Tuesday, March 02, 2021

James Cox

The “large majority” of over-85s will have received their first Covid-19 vaccine by Sunday, according to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

By the end of this week, Mr Donnelly forecast that 500,000 vaccines will have been administered out of a total of 520,000 received.

He said there may be a number of people aged over 85 who are not vaccinated by the end of the week if they are not well enough to travel to their GP clinic or a vaccination hub.

However, he said measures will be put in place to address this.

Mr Donnelly said healthcare staff are “exhausted”, adding that the good news is “the pressure has eased” in hospitals.

He also said Covid-19 infections in Irish hospital staff have dropped by around 95 per cent.

Mr Donnelly told the Oireachtas Committee on Health on Tuesday that the fall was largely thanks to vaccinations, as well as dropping levels of community transmission.

Citing figures from Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry, the minister described the news as “very encouraging”.

He said: “The good news is the pressure has eased. We’ve seen today that the number of Covid cases in hospitals has reduced below 500, which is very, very welcome.

“The Chief Clinical Officer, the figures he’s given are very encouraging in terms of the impact the vaccine is having. Now it’s not just the vaccine, it will be lower community transmission as well.

“But from memory, the Chief Clinical Officer was citing figures that suggested about a 95 per cent reduction in Covid infection rates for hospital staff, which is very encouraging.”

Mr Donnelly also revealed that the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) is conducting a rolling review of the prioritisation list.

He suggested the review could see key workers such as teachers and carers moved up the list.

He said: “What they’re now looking at is the next grouping, which is a very large grouping, which is key workers.

“So, for example, family carers. A lot of people have been advocating on behalf of family carers.”

He added: “So one of the things Niac is now looking at is key workers, including for example, the role they play, for example in supporting healthcare or the vaccination programme itself.

“Or indeed other essential activities, like education and, or indeed, caring.”

Additional reporting from PA

 

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