There are long waiting lists for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at pharmacies around the country.
From today, the jab is available to people aged between 18 and 34-years-old for the first time.
There is huge demand for the shot, with long waiting lists building up since the change was announced last week.
Joan Kilgallen, Superintendent Pharmacist at Poplar Pharmacy in Naas said she has 600 people on her waiting list – but only enough jabs for 50 people this week.
“We have been inundated with phone calls from 9am on Friday morning. We have been taking names and phone numbers; however, our supply is very unclear to us,” she said.
“The HSE have allocated 50 previously and 50 this week but after that we have no view of future supply
“We have about 600 names on our waiting list and we’re waiting to get back to them. If we could, we would.
“I can’t find any information either from the IPU (Irish Pharmacy Union) or the HSE regarding the supply and it is a little frustrating at this point – but we’re still delighted to be doing our first vaccinations today."
Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson (J&J) was originally limited to people over the age 50; however, the rules were relaxed following fresh advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee.
It means people aged 35 to 49 are the only age cohort to be unable to access the one-shot jab.
“We need more now,” said Ms Kilgallen. “We can do this vaccination process faster than anybody else if we have the supply. We have pharmacists ready to go and we have been planning this for months.
“For the young people, they are very anxious to get vaccinated too. Lots of them have their names down in lots of shops so they will get the earliest opportunity for an appointment and that is frustrating for them as well.
“There are a number of aspects to this that we could iron out very quickly if there was a will to do so and I would call on the HSE to just make extra efforts to move this along as quickly as possible.
“The whole idea is that we want to increase the vaccination uptake of the population and we want to get to 80% as quickly as possible and pharmacies are the best possible route to do that.”
"Stick it into my arm"
29-year-olds Audrey and David were first in line for the shot this morning.
“I would have taken any vaccine at all,” said Audrey. “I Just want to get vaccinated and done.
“I suppose it’s just more for peace of mind and the minute we are allowed to travel – just to get out there and get going.”
“Once one of them was approved I would have taken any of them,” said David. “That’s the way I felt about it. Stick it into my arm and let’s get going.
“Young people want to be out and about. We are at that age to be out mingling, socialising and seeing our friends – and maybe get back travelling.”
Some 750 pharmacies around the country have been approved to administer the vaccines.
Ms Kilgallen said Poplars is operating their list on a first-come, first-served basis.
“Whoever calls we get back to them in that exact order,” she said. “Fairness is very important in this process; we want to be seen to be fair to everybody.
“It is an equal opportunity for everybody. As soon as they feel they wish to have the vaccination we are here to facilitate it once we have the supplies.”
She said there is a great sense of excitement around the pharmacy, adding: “We have been waiting for this day for many, many weeks, and we are delighted having come to this.”
Reporting from Stephanie Rohan.