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Martin hails ‘truly historic day’ as first coronavirus vaccine delivered

A Co Fermanagh-born pensioner became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer jab outside trial conditions on Tuesday.

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Margaret Keenan is applauded by staff as she returns to her ward after receiving the vaccination (Jacob King/PA)

Margaret Keenan is applauded by staff as she returns to her ward after receiving the vaccination (Jacob King/PA)

Margaret Keenan is applauded by staff as she returns to her ward after receiving the vaccination (Jacob King/PA)

The Irish premier has hailed a “truly historic day” after the first coronavirus vaccine was administered.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin, Sinn Fein president Mary-Lou McDonald and Irish Labour leader Alan Kelly all described a “turning of the tide” in the pandemic.

Fermanagh-born Margaret Keenan, 90, became the first person in the world to have the Pfizer vaccine outside trial conditions in Coventry on Tuesday.

A short time later, nurse Joanna Sloan from Co Down became the first in Northern Ireland to receive the jab.

Mr Martin described the development as a “vindication of science as the ultimate route through dealing with this terrible virus”.

A vaccination programme is expected to start in the Republic of Ireland in January.

The Taoiseach was pressed by Mr Kelly during opposition leader questions to address misinformation with social media companies ahead of the rollout.

“We all as public representatives need to support the scientists who have delivered these vaccines, we must be very pro-vaccine,” he said.

“I am concerned about utterances by some public representatives in the past, I am concerned about the impact that it is having on our citizens, I am concerned that many citizens are being fed lies about vaccines at a critical time, that many of our citizens are being fed deliberate misinformation and I am asking you publicly to deal with it.”

Mr Kelly said his party has written to every TD, senator and MEP urging them to promote coronavirus vaccines.

“Much of the misinformation is spread on social media platforms.

“In this city, we have Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, Google and Instagram. We need to talk to them, we need to deal with misinformation that is being deliberately put out on those platforms,” he said.

“They all changed their algorithms and changed their rules in relation to the recent US election. They need to do so again in relation to the rollout of this vaccine.”

Mr Martin responded by saying he applauded Mr Kelly’s initiative.

“We need to be very strong and positive in support of vaccination to eliminate a virus that has caused such devastation, ill health and death across the world,” he said.

“So we do need to make sure that fake news doesn’t get prevalence or promoted on the digital platforms you refer to.”

Mr Martin said Ireland awaits the approval of the Pfizer jab and also the Moderna vaccine by the European Medicines Agency.

Earlier, health minister Stephen Donnelly said those aged over 65 in long-term care, frontline healthcare workers and people over 70 will be the first to get the vaccine.

PA


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