Up to 40 large vaccination centres will be put in place across the State to administer Covid-19 vaccines, the head of the HSE has confirmed.
Paul Reid some of these facilities could have 40 to 50 lanes for people to be vaccinated, while others may have 10 to 20 bays.
Significant progress had been made on the deployment of the new centres across the country and the workforce required, he added.
The plans for the new facilities are being developed alongside the immediate plan for vaccinating those over the age of 70 in the Republic through GP practices.
Mr Reid told RTÉ’s This Week programme on Sunday that people aged over 70 will not be fully vaccinated until the middle of May.
Those over 70 will receive their first vaccination by mid-April and their second by mid-May, he said. It had originally been planned that the first doses would have been provided to those over 70 by the end of March.
“We do know that there's a high level of immunity once the first vaccine takes place but ultimately the complete immunity takes place after the second vaccine,” Mr Reid said.
“Our plan had always been to complete by the end of March but it looks like the first dose will be completed by the middle of April, and at the second dose will be completed by the middle of May.”
He said the revised plan to administer the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to older people would commence on Monday, February 15th, starting with those aged over 85.
The HSE chief executive promised that older people who are immobile at home – and who could not get to proposed vaccination centres – “will not be left behind”.
He said transport could be arranged using local authorities or the Defence Forces while the HSE would also consider how vaccines could be brought to the homes of people concerned.
Operational plans to vaccinate 483,000 people over the age of 70 across the State had to be changed last week after the Government, on expert advice, decided to use the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines rather than the AstraZeneca shot as had been envisaged originally.
Mr Reid said the majority of GPs would give the vaccines to patients in the over-70 cohort in their own practice. As part of the new system for administering the vaccines to people over that age a number of large scale vaccination clinics are to be established in Dublin, Cork and Galway.
The first of these clinics will be set up at Dublin City University where patients attached to 121 practices across the capital will receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
Details of the new plan have been worked out following talks between the HSE and the Irish Medical Organisation.
Mr Reid said hospitals are still under severe pressure, despite the recent fall in Covid-19 infections.
“We have seen some relief in our hospital system,” he said.
“We're down to 1,208 people in hospital and still 178 and ICU so it has given us some relief, but I do want to put that in a brief context, 1200 people is still 50 per cent higher of hospitalised cases that we were in the peak back in April of the first wave.
“So we're a long way from being out of the woods in terms of pressure on our hospital system just yet but thankfully the actions that are public are taking are proving beneficial for us and the call again is for people to please stick with us, it is working but we have a hospital system still under significant pressure.”