'This is the light at the end of the tunnel' – Donnelly optimistic as almost 1,000 over-85s vaccinated at the Helix

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Health Minister Stephen Donnelly was in jubilant mood as he visited The Helix vaccination centre at Dublin City University today, declaring “This is the light at the end of the tunnel.”

e said the nation had been through “a very hard year” but at long last community vaccinations were underway.

Almost 1,000 people would be vaccinated at the theatre by the time it was due to close in the early afternoon. The minister said he was thrilled to speak with so many older people receiving their vaccinations who told him how much they looked forward to hugging their children and their grandchildren.

He paid tribute to all the clinicians and other staff on duty at the centre and he said the clinicians were telling him it was very emotional for them to be with the older people as they were vaccinated.

Professor Brian MacCraith, chairperson of the High Level Covid-19 Taskforce and President of Dublin City University, said the opening of The Helix Theatre at the university as a major vaccination centre was “a euphoric moment.”

Almost 1,000 people aged 85 and over were getting their vaccinations today in 48 prefabricated booths in the building.

“This is a day of liberation from the tyranny of this awful disease,” he said.

The theatre would remain a hive of activity as cars queued up nearby bringing more and more people for their long-awaited vaccines.

He said no vaccinations would take place in the theatre tomorrow but it would have a busy week ahead and it would continue to play an important role in the coming months with all four age-tiers in the over-70s cohorts being vaccinated.

He said 5,000 people a day, seven days a week, will be vaccinated at the theatre in the coming weeks.

“It’s marvellous to see the people coming for their vaccinations today. There is such an air of positivity, an air of euphoria, it’s wonderful,” he said. He said next week will be an important week for Ireland when all long-term cases in nursing homes and other long-stay facilities will have received their first vaccinations.

By mid-May, a half a million people in the over-70s cohort will have completed their vaccinations. This week, 80,000 people will be vaccinated in Ireland and the total number vaccinated so far will be 300,000, he said.

Next week, 100,000 people will be vaccinated.

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Source: Irish News