Ireland begins Covid-19 vaccinations with 79-year-old woman

DUBLIN: Ireland began its Covid-19 vaccination campaign on Tuesday by giving a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to a 79-year-old woman at a hospital in Dublin, the health service said, as coronavirus cases surge in the country.

Annie Lynch was the first person in the country to receive the vaccine at Dublin’s St James’s Hospital, it said.

Health staff and patients at four hospitals were also vaccinated.

“Today is a new day. It marks a new chapter in our fight,” Health Minister Stephen Donnelly told RTE Radio.

Donnelly said Ireland expected to vaccinate all 75,000 people who live or work in nursing homes and tens of thousands of other health workers by the end of February.

A senior official earlier on Tuesday said Ireland may be able to provide a Covid-19 vaccine to everyone in the country who wants one by August in a “fairly positive scenario” that would depend on the timing of approval of other vaccines.

The seven-day average number of daily cases of the novel coronavirus has tripled in Ireland to almost 1,000 over the last two weeks, after restrictions were eased in the run-up to the Christmas holiday.

The government has since closed restaurants and is to meet on Wednesday to consider additional restrictions.

It also brought forward the vaccine programme by a day following criticism it was acting too slowly after receiving the first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Dec 26, as part of a coordinated European Union-wide roll-out.

A total of 86,894 have been infected in Ireland since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and 2,205 people have died as a result, health ministry data showed on Monday.