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Updated 21 January 2021

Entering 2021, the island country of Ireland is still dealing with heavy Coronavirus caseloads. Despite having a small population of just around 4.9 million people, it reported more than hundreds of thousands of cases.

Now, with the advent of the vaccination program, the country is hoping to back to normal post-COVID life soon enough. Find out more about the Pfizer shots in Ireland.

How does the Pfizer vaccine work?

Among the available COVID-19 vaccines, there are four distinct types, namely, whole virus (this can again be a weakened form or inactivated coronavirus), protein subunit, nucleic acid (RNA or DNA), and viral vector.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-29 vaccine BNT162b2 is a messenger Ribonucleic Acid (mRNA) vaccine meaning that the vaccine carries genetic instructions that help the recipient’s cells to produce protein pieces that trigger immune system response. The response is in form of the reproduction of millions of copies of spike protein which stimulates the making of antibodies.

This is the same spike protein that is available in the coronavirus and used to enter the cells in the human body. If a sufficient number of antibodies are produced in the human body with the mRNA vaccine, they will prevent the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 from proliferating, thus protecting the recipient from COVID-19.

How effective is the Pfizer vaccine?

The Pfizer vaccine works best with two doses where the second one is registered 21 days after the first one. On administration of the first dose, the immune system is alerted, and post the second one, it gets a boost, thus providing the immunity to fight off the virus. Efficacy is 52% after the first dose and raises up to 95% after the second jab. So, it takes around four weeks to build immunity after the first dose (could happen earlier as well).

It is, however, not particularly known how long the vaccine immunity will last. Insights regarding the Pfizer COVID vaccine’s long term effects are clouded as trials weren’t set up to answer the same. CEO of BioNTech Sahin expects it to be months or possibly even years before the vaccine recipient becomes vulnerable to COVID-19 infection again. Eleanor Riley at the University of Edinburgh in the UK mentioned that we might have to resort to annual boosters.

It is also strongly recommended that you should complete the vaccine course i.e. take both the doses before you leave the city.

Are there any reported side effects?

As far as safety is concerned, the Pfizer vaccine has an overall great safety profile with its benefits outweigh the potential risks. Based on safety data collected from 37,586 participants enrolled in an ongoing phase 3 clinical trial, the most commonly reported side effect involves volunteers experiencing an injection site reaction (seen in almost 84% of those who received the vaccine).

So, if you are taking the vaccine, know that the injection site on your arm might hurt a little, show some redness, and get swollen a bit. You might also experience difficulties in moving your arm freely. Other known side effects of the Pfizer vaccine includes:

  • Fatigue
  • Joint pains
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache

Severe reactions were rare with four cases of Bell’s palsy being reported during the trial. However, there is no clear evidence that the cause of this temporary paralysis was the vaccine. Adverse allergic reactions are also possible and hence those who experienced any major allergic reaction during the first dose of the vaccine are being advised not to take the second one.

Who’ll get the Pfizer vaccine in Ireland?

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and the Department of Health have formulated a clear priority list, according to which the COVID-19 vaccine will be administered in Ireland.

  1. 1 People aged 65 years and older who are residents of long-term care facilities (likely to include all staff and residents on site)
  2. Frontline healthcare workers
  3. People aged 70 and older
  4. Other healthcare workers not in direct patient contact
  5. People aged 65-69
  6. Key workers (Vaccination Programme)
  7. People aged 18-64 with certain medical conditions
  8. Residents of long-term care facilities aged 18-64
  9. People aged 18-64 living or working in crowded settings
  10. Key workers in essential jobs who cannot avoid a high risk of exposure
  11. People working in education sector
  12. People aged 55-64
  13. Other workers in occupations important to the functioning of society
  14. Other people aged 18-54
  15. People aged under 18 and pregnant women

COVID-19 vaccination hasn’t been made mandatory by the Irish government, but is highly recommended.

Where and when to get the Pfizer shots in Ireland?

Vaccinations will mainly take place at mass vaccination clinics, GP surgeries and community pharmacies. Qualified and trained healthcare workers, including hospital doctors, community medical officers, nurses, GPs and pharmacists will be administering the jabs to the public.

On 16 January, 3 mass vaccination centres were set up in Dublin, Galway and Portlaoise.


Registering for the jabs

Citizens don’t need to register or apply for the vaccine shots. The Health Service Executive (HSE) will itself contact people, according to their turn in the priority list. This will be done through an invitation from the healthcare team, news or public advertising.

How much will the Pfizer vaccine cost?

The coronavirus vaccine is being administered free of charge to all Irish nationals and residents.

Latest updates on the Pfizer vaccine

Based on the plan laid out by Ireland’s Health Services, the government aims to aim to give all residents in mental health and disability settings over the age of 65 their first dose by end of January. People will also start to receive their second dose of vaccine.

Due to changes being introduced by Pfizer in its manufacturing with a view to increasing the production, the company will be scaling down its supply to European countries. Ireland will receive only 50% of the expected quantity in the week starting from 18 January.

This is bound to affect the implementation of Ireland’s rollout strategy and will have “implications for people receiving their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine”, according to Professor Brian MacCraith, chair of Ireland’s High-Level Task Force on Covid-19 Vaccination. As of now, it is expected that delay will be around three to four weeks only.