The first Covid-19 vaccine in the Republic of Ireland will be administered later today.
It is expected to happen in one of four hospitals: Beaumont, St James’, Cork University Hospital or Galway University Hospital.
HSE chief executive Paul Reid says today represents a “beacon of light” in the fight against Covid and is urging people to unite behind the vaccine programme.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin says the most vulnerable to the virus will be receiving the jabs first.
Mr Martin said the vaccination programme will be “ramping up significantly” within healthcare settings and nursing homes throughout January and February before being rolled-out more widely.
People over the age of 65 who are long-term residents in care facilities will be among the first to be vaccinated, along with healthcare workers.
Vaccination had been due to start of January 11th, following the arrival of the first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on St Stephen’s Day. However, the delay was criticised by the Medical Council, leading to the date being moved up to December 30th, before Mr Reid confirmed the HSE was ready to begin a small number of vaccinations today.
Tánaiste Leo Varakdar attributed the delay to issues such as training for vaccinators and informed consent.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly says up to 20,000 people a week will be vaccinated from January, which may increased to between 30,000 and 40,000 if Ireland receives adequate supplies from January 11th.