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Ireland hits one million coronavirus vaccine first doses milestone

Irish premier Micheal Martin congratulated all those involved in the roll-out in a tweet on Sunday evening.


Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ireland has hit the one million coronavirus vaccines milestone.

Irish premier Micheal Martin congratulated all those involved in the rollout of the programme in a tweet on Sunday evening.

“Just been informed by that we’ve reached 1 Million first doses of the #CovidVaccine. Great work by all the vaccination teams and GPs across the country,” he posted.

Earlier the Taoiseach, who is 60 years old, said he is looking forward to registering for an AstraZeneca vaccination when permitted according to his age this week.

“The evidence is strong in relation to AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson that the benefits outweigh the risks,” he told RTE’s The Week In Politics programme.

Paul Reid, chief executive of the Health Service Executive, said it had been a strong week for the vaccination programme with more than 170,000 jabs administered.

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Mr Martin also said he wants to ensure that when society reopens after the latest lockdown, it stays open.

He does not want to see any more “stop/start” closures in the battle against Covid-19, adding that outdoors will be the theme for this summer.

From Monday, non-contact outdoor sports activities, such as golf and tennis, can resume, outdoor visitor attractions, such as zoos, wildlife parks and pet farms, can reopen, and the maximum attendance at funerals will be increased to 25.

We are moving cautiously and we're not letting rip for the summerTaioseach Micheal Martin

“That outdoor theme is critical because we know that outdoor is less harmful in the context of the spread of this virus than indoor,” Mr Martin said.

“I can understand that hospitality sector livelihoods are at stake, it’s been devastated as a result of this pandemic, but anything we open now, we want to keep open.

“We want to end this start/stop close and many people in different sectors have said that to us.”

Mr Martin said the Government’s strategy is working in terms of controlling the virus.

He said the next reopenings to be considered include outdoor sports, non-essential retail, hairdressing salons and religious services.

“We’re going to examine that for May and we hopefully will be able to do something on that in terms of May,” he said.

“But we understand the danger of indoor.

“For the summer, I think that outdoor has to be the theme.

“We just need to keep the pressure on this virus as we vaccinate… because the impact of the vaccines is transformative in terms of reducing mortality, reducing severe illness and indeed transmission as well.”

He added: “We are moving cautiously and we’re not letting rip for the summer. There are risks attached to decisions that we take, we have to balance this.

“It’s about doing the right thing to protect the Irish people, even if it makes for short-term unpopularity.

“It’s a very long lockdown, it’s been very tough on people, but we had to get the numbers down and we have.

“We have taken the pressure off the hospital systems, which was a key target of ours. We have reduced the virus but it still is at levels that would be concerning if there was any significant increase.”

He said said the current advice on international travel will be re-examined in July, when it is expected there will be a significant number of vaccinations administered across Europe.

Mr Martin was also quizzed about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Ireland is waiting for approval of that jab by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC).

The Taoiseach described it as a “very important vaccine”.

He said NIAC can benefit from examination of the Johnson & Johnson jab in the United States and Europe.

“It is reading and assessing all of that data prior to making its decision, and engaging with the chief medical officer,” he said, adding that Pfizer and BioNTech are increasing vaccine supplies into the country.

Another 160,000 doses of the AstraZeneca jab are also due to arrive in Ireland this week.

One further coronavirus-related death and another 429 confirmed cases of the virus were notified in Ireland on Sunday.

As of 8am on Sunday, there were 174 Covid-positive patients in hospital, of whom 45 were in ICU.

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