Nursing Home residents will be among the first people to get Covid-19 vaccines.
Along with nurses and other medical staff, healthcare workers in the country’s 552 public and private nursing homes will also be among the first to get vaccinated.
This is in direct contrast to what is happening in the UK, where the government has announced the best way to deliver the first of two rounds of the first batch of the new Pfizer vaccine will be in hospitals.
The decision about nursing homes here was made some time ago but on Tuesday, Nursing Homes Ireland CEO Tadhg Daly was assured by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly the homes would be prioritized.
“We were very encouraged from our representation that residents and healthcare workers will be up the priority list,” Mr Daly said. “We expect and we understand that nursing home residents and staff will be prioritized. Clearly, given what is happening in the UK, it is a substantial logistical challenge.
Of the homes, 440 are voluntary or private homes, with around 25,000 residents. And the remaining 112 HSE-run homes have around 5,000 residents.
Covid-19 has ripped through a large number of nursing homes around the country and led to more than 1,000 of the country’s 2,074 deaths from the virus.
In one of the deadliest Covid-19 outbreaks to hit a nursing home, eight have died after the virus got into the Oaklands Nursing Home in Derry, Listowel, Co Kerry.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines could be approved for use here before the end of the year.
At the moment, the vaccines come in packs of between 975 and 4,875 doses.
Each person has to receive two doses taken three weeks apart.
Because of the way they are packaged at the moment, and deep frozen, smaller nursing homes might not necessarily be able to get them.
However, that could change if a body like the Health Products Regulatory Authority gives Also a fleet of specialist refrigeration trucks has been brought into Ireland to help with distributing the vaccines.