Additional reporting by Vivienne Clarke. Updated: 10.30am
The national vaccination effort ramps up today with around 750 pharmacies providing coronavirus jabs to people aged 18 to 34.
They will be getting the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine which provides full protection against Covid-19 after just one shot.
From next week, vaccination centres will also be offering the AstraZeneca jab to 18 to 34-year-olds.
Speaking to Newstalk, Darragh O'Loughlin from the Irish Pharmacy Union expects chemists to prioritise those getting the vaccine based on their level of risk: “Everybody aged between 18 and 34 is equally eligible for the vaccine.
“The same goes for anyone over 50 who can still obtain the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccination in a pharmacy.”
He said pharmacists will be prioritising mostly on the order people come in. He added that it is more likely those over 50 will be given precedence over the 18-34 year olds, mainly for health reason and because they are more vulnerable.
It comes as yesterday, pharmacists said there has been huge interest from people aged 18 to 34 about getting the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
No vaccine hesitancy
The Irish Pharmacy Union said they have received 10 calls for every available vaccine from people in that age range.
They also said there is no sign of vaccine hesitancy among the younger age group, who can get the one shot jab in a local chemist from today.
Mr O'Loughlin said due to a shortage in supplies, some people may have to wait to get their jab.
He told Newstalk yesterday: “I would say there is about 10 enquiries for every vaccine that's available, so unfortunately a lot of people won't get an appointment in the first tranche but people who have left their name and number with a pharmacy can be assured that as more vaccines become available.
"As the HSE distributes more vaccines out to pharmacies, a pharmacy will get in touch with them and offer them an appointment as soon as possible.”
He says only those that were already distributing the jabs to older people will have supplies from this morning.
“Pharmacies had some vaccines in stock because they had been using it on the over-50s, the next delivery of vaccines to pharmacies won't be until some time between Wednesday and Friday of this week coming,” Mr O'Loughlin explained.
Immunologist Professor Luke O’Neill has described the enthusiasm of the 18-34 cohort to get vaccinated as “great news”, echoing the Irish Pharmacy Unions comments that there is no apparent vaccine hesitancy in the age group.
“The fact that they’re lining up (to get vaccinated) is great news,” he told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show.
There was a greater risk in cycling to get the vaccine than there was in getting the vaccine, he added, and the risk of clotting is “incredibly low”.
The virus, even the Delta variant, was benign for those under the age of 18 with minimal risk, Prof O'Neill said, adding Ireland should send any surplus vaccines to countries who need it when everyone over 18 here has been vaccinated.
On the possibility of UK prime minister Boris Johnson making the wearing of face coverings a personal choice, Prof O'Neill said he thought it was too soon to do that.
“I don't envy any politician at the moment, there is a lot of unknown factors, it is case of damned if you do and damned if you don't,” he added.