More than 100,000 doses of Covid-19 are set to be administered this week, as supplies of the vaccine are to be ramped up over the coming weeks.
Health Service Executive (HSE) boss Paul Reid said the light is “beginning to emerge” as the State scales up its vaccine programme.
The CEO of the HSE said that it delivered some 40,000 to 45,000 doses every week, but that increased to 80,000 vaccines last week.
He said that 13,500 of those vaccines went to people aged over 85, while 25,000 were delivered to healthcare workers and 40,000 to residents and staff in long-term residential facilities.
“This week, we’re heading up to over 100,000,” Mr Reid told RTE’s Today with Claire Byrne.
COVID-19 vaccines are already bringing hope to our communities. People who are most at risk from COVID-19 will get the vaccine first. For factual, expert information you can trust, visit the HSE website. #VaccinesWork #CovidVaccine #HoldFirm pic.twitter.com/sLzNVDle5z— HSE Ireland (@HSELive) February 22, 2021
He said that includes 40,000 people over the age of 85.
There are around 72,5000 people aged over 85 living in the State, and half a million people over the age of 70.
“Over the course of the next two weeks we will have completed the 85 years age plus group,” Mr Reid added.
Health officials say they will vaccinate the over 70s age cohort with both doses by May.
“We will go through the age brackets over each couple of weeks, so in two weeks we will be starting the 80 to 85 age groups,” Mr Reid said.
“Everybody in that group will receive the first vaccine in April and second by the middle of May.
“If supply comes through as they are committed to us, we will start to get over a million a month, and that’s 250,000 (doses) a week.
Mr Reid urged the public to “hold on to their guard”, but said the vaccines gives the public a sense of a “way out” and of “strong hope”.
Mr Reid said the HSE will continue to monitor cases as schools reopen next month.
He warned parents and guardians not to mix together at school buildings, avoid going for coffee together and sharing car journeys.
“We have always strongly advocated that the return to schools is safe, it is important to us. Our role will continue to be with mass testing like we did from September onwards,” he added.
Mr Reid also said that the country is still seeing a high number of cases, but that the restrictions are working to help reduce the spread of the infection.
If youâre aged 85 or over, you will be offered a free COVID-19 vaccine next. This has started and will continue as vaccines are supplied us. You don't need to register in advance. When your vaccine is available, your GP will let you know. #HoldFirm pic.twitter.com/x5FQXpcYmP— HSE Ireland (@HSELive) February 21, 2021
Meanwhile, it has emerged that people in all counties are increasingly travelling more than 10km from their homes.
Data from the Central Statistic Office (CSO) indicate that there has been some relaxation of mobility behaviour across the country.
It also shows that an estimated 66.7% of the population stayed within 10km of their home during the week ending February 12.
The Staying Local Indicator (SLI) shows that Dublin continues to be the county with the highest percentage of the population staying local at 79.7%.
The CSO said this reflects its urbanised nature and access to services compared to other counties.
An estimated 66.7% of the population stayed local (within 10k of home) during the week ending 12 February 2021 according to the Staying Local Indicator (SLI), a seven-day rolling averagehttps://t.co/HuVdYQys9a #CSOIreland #Ireland #COVIDIreland #Health #SocialImpact pic.twitter.com/RrNSvDOJZo— Central Statistics Office Ireland (@CSOIreland) February 22, 2021
The SLI data shows travel patterns in different counties over seven days.
Roscommon saw the highest decrease in mobility adherence for the week ending February 12.
A spokesman for SCO said: “Propensity to stay within 10km of residence tends to differ by county, as movement is impacted by local circumstances and conditions, such as access to services and levels of urbanisation.
“For example, Dublin, with a high level of urbanisation, consistently shows the highest percentage of persons staying local, while Mayo and Roscommon, with low levels of urbanisation, have the lowest percentage of persons staying within 10km of home.”