One million people have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.
“Just been informed by HSE that we’ve reached 1 Million first doses of the Covid Vaccine. Great work by all the vaccination teams and GPs across the country,” Mr Martin tweeted on Sunday evening.
The latest figures released by the HSE show about 400,000 people are now fully vaccinated in the Republic.
In the North, more than 900,000 people had received their first jab by April 24th, while 340,000 are fully vaccinated.
Vaccinations have been extended to people aged 35-39 in Northern Ireland.
The update means that about 25 per cent of the Republic’s adult population (aged 18 and over) has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, compared to 62 per cent in the North.
Meanwhile, there are about 120,000 people at “very high risk” from coronavirus who are yet to receive their first dose of a Covid jab.
Damien McCallion, the HSE’s vaccine programme lead, said “good progress” has been made in recent weeks to vaccinate people who are medically vulnerable.
To date, more than 130,000 people who are at very high risk of severe disease if they caught Covid have been vaccinated through hospitals.
From next week GPs would also be working to vaccinate the remaining people who are very high risk, Mr McCallion said.
“Unfortunately we don’t have disease registers that would have made it easy to identify those people,” he told RTÉ’s This Week.
He said hospitals, GPs, disability services and other groups have been identifying people at risk. Patients did not need to contact their GP or the HSE as they will be contacted directly, he said.
The HSE has had to re-adjust its plans for vaccinating these cohorts as it was originally anticipated that the AstraZeneca jab would be used.
People who refuse the AstraZeneca vaccine will not be eliminated from the rollout, but there are “no guarantees” about vaccine supplies downstream, Mr McCallion said.
However, he said there would be “no guarantees” they would be able to access a different vaccine to the one they were originally offered.
“The clinical advice at the moment is that the best vaccine is the vaccine that is offered to you now … we would encourage people obviously to inform themselves and make their own decision, but to look at that clinical advice that is there and look at the benefit that comes from vaccines,” Mr McCallion said.
The HSE’s chief executive Paul Reid confirmed on Sunday that more than 220,000 people aged 62 to 69 have registered to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, with over 90,000 appointments booked so far.