EXPLAINER: HSE confirms details of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout including priority rating

It is expected that everyone will be vaccinated by September

Vaccine rollout

HSE confirm vaccine rollout plans

Administration of the Covid-19 vaccine in Ireland is underway.

The HSE has confirmed its rollout plans and has issued information about the vaccine.

Covid-19 is a highly infectious disease which can cause serious illness, hospitalisation and even death. The HSE says that the vaccine will offer protection from Covid-19. 

It is still possible to contract Covid-19 after vaccination but patients should be protected from the serious illness the virus can sometimes cause.

The vaccine is not mandatory. But the HSE strongly recommends that people get the vaccine as soon as it is available. The vaccine is free and will not be available privately.

Those most at risk will get the vaccine first. This is to reduce the number of deaths from the virus.

The vaccine will be administered as an injection in the upper arm. Everyone will need two doses. The second dose will be at least 21 to 28 days after the first dose for those who get the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine; 28 days (four full weeks) after the first dose for those getting the Moderna vaccine.

Vaccinators will be trained healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses and pharmacists. They will answer any questions or concerns about the vaccine. The vaccinator will issue an aftercare advice leaflet and a vaccine record card. The record will show the name and batch number of the vaccine received

The HSE advises that there is no evidence the vaccine is unsafe for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

People who have already had Covid-19 still need to get the vaccine. 

Those getting the vaccine will need to sign a consent form. 

Personal information will be processed in line with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It will only be processed for the specific purpose of managing the vaccination.

People do not need to apply or register to get the vaccine. 

It is advised that some people do not get the vaccine. They are people who:

- currently have Covid-19 – the advice is to wait until it has been four weeks from first symptoms or a positive test
- have had a severe allergic reaction to any of the ingredients in the vaccine, including polyethylene glycol - the vaccinator will ask about allergies
- have had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine
- have a fever (temperature of 38ºC or above)
- has had an immediate allergic reaction to any other vaccine or injectable therapy should talk to your doctor before getting the Covid-19 vaccine.

First Round

The first groups to get the Covid-19 vaccine are:

- people aged 65 years and older who live in long-term care facilities – they have a greater risk of serious illness if they get Covid-19
- frontline healthcare workers – they have a higher risk of being exposed to Covid-19

According to the HSE: “If you live in a long-term care facility, you will be offered the vaccine there. 

“If you are a healthcare worker, you will be offered the vaccine where you work or in a vaccination clinic."

The vaccine will be offered to more priority groups as soon as possible.

Rollout Plan

According to the Minister of State for Procurement and eGovernment Ossian Smyth TD, the first round will run from January to March. It is expected that over-seventies will also be vaccinated within this time frame.

Other healthcare workers not in direct patient contact will be next, in a period which according to Minister of State Ossian Smyth’s office will run from April to June.

This period will also include in order of priority: people aged 65 to 69; key workers; people aged 18 to 64 with specific chronic illnesses; long-term care residents under 65; workers in crowded environments; education workers; everyone aged 55 to 64.

The next period running from July to September is expected to include in order of priority: essential workers in less crowded environments; everyone aged 18 to 54; people under 18 and people who are pregnant.

The rollout is subject to supply as well as medical authorisation of the vaccines.

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