Vaccine envy seems to have quickly taken over from vaccine hesitancy as social media is full of selfies of ecstatic people getting their first shot of the Covid-19 jab.
The relief is palpable on the faces of frontline health staff and long-term care residents, who deservedly are first in the queue.
Patience will be needed by groups down the priority ladder – but there are now hopeful signs that more people may be vaccinated earlier than expected.
The European Union’s chief vaccine negotiator Sandra Gallina raised expectations yesterday when she said there would be “abundant doses” of Covid-19 vaccines in the second quarter of the year.
After Easter there could be more ample supply, although it has to stretch to two doses per person for most vaccines.
From Ireland’s point of view, there are favourable developments this week.
Oxford-AstraZeneca applied to the European Medicines Agency for approval and a decision is due on January 29.
The hope is there will be a generous series of shipments of some of the 3.3 million doses ordered of the easy-to-use jab. It is given in two doses but can be stored at regular temperatures, making it easy for GPs and pharmacists to administer.
Johnson and Johnson also indicated its vaccine is near the end of its trials, which could mean an application in February. It is delivered in one dose.
Ireland is lucky that Pfizer-BioNTech has been so efficient and reliable, allowing the roll-out of the vaccine to be jumpstarted with 40,000 doses a week until the end of February.
More than 3,500 of Moderna’s first vaccines began arriving here this week. This means that by the end of February the HSE could be tapping into sources from four different vaccines.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly expects around 700,000 people could be fully vaccinated by the end of March, including older residents in long-term care, frontline healthcare staff and the over-70s.
This would be a significant step in protecting these groups from getting ill if they catch the virus.
But as of yesterday most of the country’s 3,500 GPs had still not even received a first shot and had no certainty when this would happen.
Professor Kingston Mills of Trinity College estimates that the most vulnerable population, which includes those with pre-existing health conditions, amounts to around one million people.
If two shots of the vaccine are needed, that would amount to a demand for two million doses. It shows the large quantity of vaccine that would need to arrive here in the coming months.
The task force overseeing the roll-out is still unwilling to give a timetable for when different groups will be offered the vaccine, due to the uncertainty over supply.
But based on the forecast that 700,000 could have received the jab by the end of March, the first inroads would have been made into protecting people living in the community, starting with the over-70s. It is likely to be the summer before doses begin arriving in their millions.
Around 35,000 people had received the first shot of the vaccine up to the end of last week – mostly healthcare workers, along with a few thousand long-term care residents and staff.
This week there is more emphasis on long-term care settings.
Pfizer-BioNTech has guaranteed around 40,000 doses a week from now until the end of February. A second shot is needed three weeks after the first, and it then takes a week to work.