AS OF the end of last week, almost 250,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in Ireland.
Statistics from the Department of Health reveal that 151,212 people in total have been given their first dose of the vaccine, while a further 79,554 people have received their second dose, with 230,766 doses administered overall.
The HSE confirmed that a further 29,000 vaccines are planned for patients in 78 residential homes around the country this week, as Ireland's vaccination programme properly kicks into gear.
Both vaccines currently being used - Pfizer and Moderna - are two-dose vaccines, with AstraZeneca's vaccine set to be rolled out later this month.
Recent doubts have been cast over the efficacy of AstraZeneca's vaccine, however. Not only is there concern that it's less effective for anyone over the age of 65, but there are now thoughts that it might not work on the South African variant of Covid-19.
South Africa itself has suspended the start of its AstraZeneca rollout programme as a result, with World Health Organization (WHO) officials set to meet and discuss the issue further.
Ireland has already decided, like many countries across Europe, not to administer the AstraZeneca jab to anyone over the age of 70, though Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn insists that the country is using vaccines that are proven to suppress the most prevalent variants seen throughout Ireland.
"Early preliminary information on the AstraZeneca vaccine in relation to the South African variant suggests that it might not be as good in that, in that for that particular variant," Dr Glynn said.
"As I said, the confidence intervals are really, really wide and by that mean there's a huge amount of uncertainty about what's been reported.
"And it's simply too early to conclude so of course, you're monitoring the situation and are monitoring the variant in Brazil as well.
"And a key part of the challenge os to keep those variants out. And when they do, as they will, arrive on this island to identify them, and contain them as swiftly as possible to ensure that there isn't any onward spread. And hopefully, so far we've managed to do that from relation to South Africa."