Homeless people in Dublin are the first to start receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
The Covid-19 vaccination programme for medically vulnerable people living in homeless services began today at a temporary clinic set up in Dublin city centre.
Over the next two weeks, the clinic will provide vaccination for 700 medically vulnerable people who are homeless with 350 people expected to receive their vaccine this week alone.
The clinic is hoping to vaccinate up to 120-150 people today and on Friday.
Once those identified as being the most vulnerable in the homeless community have received their vaccine, the programme will aim to vaccinate the remaining homeless people over the following weeks.
The group are the first in the country to receive the one-dose Covid-19 vaccine.
Health Service Executive Clinical Homeless Covid Lead Dr Austin O'Carroll said the vaccine has almost 100% immunity against serious disease and death and very good immunity against the disease.
Dr O'Carroll said the fact that this particular vaccine is one-shot is hugely beneficial for this group of people.
"This is a particularly big advantage with homeless people because they are very hard to identify due to being mobile so the one-shot gives us a big advantage in ensuring they get their full vaccination," said Dr O'Carroll.
The HSE is providing transport to and from the vaccination clinic for those people who are part of this particular vaccination programme.
There is also an active communications plan to encourage and support people to take-up the vaccine.
"We are going into the hostels beforehand, giving out leaflets and talking to clients," said Dr O'Carroll.
Today marks the initial phase of the vaccination programme for socially excluded groups who have been identified by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) as having significantly increased risk of illness of the coronavirus.
Groups included in this programme include people who are homeless and members of the Traveller and Roma communities.
Minister of State for Public Health, Frank Feighan said the programme for those in prioritised socially excluded groups will ultimately benefit over 40,000 people.
Mr Feighan said the targeted approach being used for the socially excluded groups will extend to other at-risk groups such as residents in direct provision and people attending drug treatment services in due course.
"The delivery of the programme takes into account the unique circumstances affecting these groups, including difficulties some may have in accessing and engaging with health services," Mr Feighan said today as he attended the temporary vaccination clinic in Dublin today.
He paid tribute to the efforts of frontline workers including voluntary service providers who have worked tireless to minimise the potentially devastating impact Covid-19 could have had on homeless people.
The health supports provided during the pandemic were welcomed by the minister who said one of the benefits of the pandemic is that new ways of providing health services for people who are homeless have been found.