Up to 240,000 jabs are expected to be administered next week

Health department director Paul Reid said the introduction of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine will contribute to what is expected to be the “best week ever” in terms of the vaccine rollout.

The HSE expects between 220,000 and 240,000 vaccines to be administered next week.

Across the country, 36 vaccination centers were opened and Mr Reid said there were enough vaccinators to administer the doses.

For the first time, 26,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson single injection vaccine will be administered, prioritizing vulnerable people, including those who are homeless and those with addiction problems.

The online portal for people aged 55 to 59 is expected to open for vaccine registrations on Tuesday and will continue through the ages, according to the HSE.

The HSE said the average call time is around two weeks from when a patient registers to their call for a vaccination.

Mr Reid said 1.5 million vaccines have been administered to date. In April, around 750,000 vaccines were completed, and the program is expected to accelerate in the coming week.

The HSE said plans are being finalized over the weekend on the 27th iteration of the national immunization program.

Mr Reid said he would present the revised plan to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly on Monday and the goal is for the plan to be rolled out early next week.

In a tweet, Mr Reid said there were three key drivers of the plan, namely that the rollout will continue at ages when the risks of Covid-19 are highest, an increase in vaccinations depending on the offer and greater openness of society and the economy. .

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The chair of the NPHET Epidemiological Modeling Advisory Group said it was essential for Ireland to take action now to reopen society and the economy and enable some of the least risky and most important activities for us. to resume.

Professor Philip Nolan said it is essential for people to move safely. He said the NPHET will monitor closely to see if there is a signal in the daily number of cases and hospitalizations that could suggest a continued growth of the epidemic.

He warned that at any early stage of exponential growth, this is when they would “sound the alarm bells.”

However, he said if people stick to the guidelines based on the new framework, the risk of that happening is low to medium. He noted that previously, when some restrictions were relaxed, the numbers had increased but “could recover”.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Saturday with Katie Hannon, he said there were a lot of uncertainties that remained, the biggest being how much more transmissible the B117 variant is and how it is now spreading compared to the last summer.

He said that “the least important uncertainty”, in terms of timing of what will happen over the summer, is the vaccine supply.

He said this was one of the reasons the NPHET couldn’t tell the government what to do at the end of the summer due to these levels of uncertainty and the inability to estimate the risks with sufficient precision.

He thinks the government has done the right thing to be really careful about what is allowed for May and June. “We have to make May and June work and leave us in a good position for what we can do in July and August.”

Professor Nolan said it was important to understand how far Ireland should be on the vaccination program to support the reopening of EU-wide travel.

He said this will be reviewed in the coming weeks as preparations need to be made beyond the end of June.

He said he was not rejecting the possibility of traveling abroad, but added that a lot of work needs to be done in advance.

As of April 28, 1,487,043 doses of Covid vaccine had been administered in Ireland. 1,067,378 people received their first dose while 419,665 are fully vaccinated with both doses.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said yesterday that “the time has come for us to move on”, but Ireland must remain cautious.

The epidemiological situation has “changed since the spring”, he said, which was largely due to the “high level of public support”.

He called the easing of restrictions announced by the government yesterday “ambitious but cautious”.

The measures focus on outdoor activities, he said, and pose a relatively low risk.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe signed a ministerial decree extending a zero rate of VAT on the domestic supply of personal protective equipment.

It follows confirmation from the European Commission that the temporary exemption from customs duties and VAT on imports of medical devices and PPE used in the fight against Covid-19 has been extended until the end of this year.

The order, signed last night, extends the zero rate of VAT for the domestic supply of PPE, thermometers, hand sanitizer, oxygen, medical ventilators and specialized breathing apparatus, including respirators.

The relief was scheduled to expire at midnight last night.

The Ministry of Health was informed yesterday of four more deaths linked to Covid-19 and 545 new cases of the disease.

The number of coronavirus patients in intensive care units remained unchanged since Thursday at 44. There are 139 people with the disease in hospital.

A total of 4,903 people have died from Covid-19 in Ireland, while the cumulative number of cases since the start of the pandemic is 248,870.

The CMO said the incidence of the virus in the country varies with some areas in a more precarious position than others, highlighting Donegal as of particular concern.

Meanwhile, there have been no new deaths from Covid-19 in Northern Ireland in the past 24 hours.

The Northern Ireland Department of Health said 90 new cases of Covid-19 have been reported.

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