The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine begins in the Republic today.
Patients will get the jab at four hospitals – Beaumont and St James’s in Dublin and Cork and Galway University Hospitals.
In a tweet this morning, HSE chief Paul Reid said the first jabs represent a “great beacon of light.”
“Let’s all galvanise and unite behind this,” he said.
“It will take time but stay positive, stay safe, stick with us and we will get there.”
Today, a great beacon of light starts to shine, as we commence our vaccination programme. Let's all galvanise and unite behind this. It will take time but stay positive, stay safe, stick with us and we will get there. @HSELive #COVID19
— Paul Reid (@paulreiddublin) December 29, 2020
Around 2,000 vaccinations are expected to take place in the hospital settings before rollout begins in more than 580 nursing homes around the country from next week.
Last night, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin said those most vulnerable to the virus are first on the list for vaccination.
“Obviously that will be ramping up significantly to deal, in the first instance with healthcare setting and nursing home residents throughout January and into February,” he said.
It comes after the HSE came in for criticism over the length of time it took to get started with the programme.
Ireland has had 10,000 doses in cold storage waiting to be administered since St Stephen’s Day and is the second last country in the EU to begin the rollout.
The Medical Council said it was “frustrating” that patients are still at risk when the vaccine was “within arm’s reach.”
On Late Breakfast with Mark Cagney however, Trinity immunologist Kingston Mills said the widespread rollout of the vaccine will be mainly delayed by “supply and availability.”
Meanwhile, the Irish College Of General Practitioners said it is important to start vaccinations “small and slow.”
The ICGP's Lead COVID-19 Advisor, Dr Nuala O'Connor, said patient safety is the most important thing.
“It is brilliant,” she said.
“It is a fantastic day and I know there has been some negativity on social media about it being very slow and sitting in fridges,” she said.
“When it comes to COVID, we often say speed trumps perfection but when it comes to vaccination patient safety is utmost.
“This is the one area where we need to start small and we need to make sure that we get it right.”
The EU's full delivery of 200 million Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines is due to be completed by September.
It expects consignments to arrive on a 'steady weekly basis' with supplies to increase over time and is working to secure a further 100 million doses.
Meanwhile a decision on the Moderna vaccine will be made by the European Medicines Agency in early January.