We continue to progress through the pre-Recovery phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Vaccination Programme is now well advanced and thanks to the extraordinary efforts of the Irish people, there has been a marked improvement in the status of the virus in the community. From Monday next, 26th April, we will proceed as planned with the further gradual easing of a number of restrictions (See notes to editors).
The vaccine programme is a key enabler to the reopening of society and the economy, and is well underway with 1,205,252 vaccines administered up to the 18th of April. Over 852,000 citizens, representing 21.8% of those aged 16 and over, have now received their first dose of the vaccine.
Administration of the vaccine is well advanced in a number of groups, including residents (aged over 65) and staff of Long-Term Residential Care Facilities, Front Line Healthcare Workers and those aged 70 and over. Roll out continues to progress through those at very high-risk from COVID.
The programme continues to prioritise those who are at most risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19, always following expert medical guidance and optimising the supply of the vaccines currently available. Over the past week, the programme has once again demonstrated its ability to react quickly to changes in both vaccine supply and advice, and will continue to do so over the coming months.
The infrastructure to support broader vaccination has now been mobilised, including the online registration system and the use of mass vaccination centres. This infrastructure will continue to scale in the coming months, to optimise vaccination in alignment with supply.
The online registration system was launched on 15th April, targeted at 65-69 year-olds, of whom over 136,000 of an estimated 170,000 in this age group have so far registered.
These vaccinations will take place through 28 of the 38 Vaccination Centres which are being brought on stream to facilitate current numbers. Those aged 60-64 will be targeted for vaccination next.
In order to maximise supply over the coming months, a number of groups will be vaccinated at the same time, including those at very high and high risk, those aged between 60 and 69 and those who are under 60 and key to the vaccination programme.
The programme is agile and responsive and will continue to react rapidly to developments as they arise.
Notes to Editors:
From Monday next, 26th April, the following changes to restrictions will come into place:
- Outdoor sports facilities can reopen (e.g. pitches, golf courses and tennis courts, other facilities as appropriate). Activities should take place between a maximum of two households.
- Facilities including club houses and any indoor facilities (e.g. changing rooms, showers, kitchens, meeting rooms), apart from essential toilet facilities must remain closed. There should not be any return to team sports or training activities.
- Underage non-contact outdoor training in pods of 15 or fewer can resume.
- Outdoor visitor attractions can reopen (i.e. zoos, open pet farms, heritage sites but not amusement parks) - indoor areas should remain closed and hospitality should only be open for take-away services. Robust protective measures, including appropriate capacity limits, should be in place.
- Maximum attendance at funerals will increase to 25 on compassionate grounds. Linked gatherings should not take place before or after funeral services.