I will be sharing time with the Minister of State, Deputy Butler. It has been 44 days since the first Covid-19 vaccine was administered in Ireland. Since Annie Lynch received her vaccine on 29 December, more than 240,000 vaccines have been administered. The programme is a significant logistical challenge and the focus of thousands of people, who are transporting and administering the vaccines and managing the programme. They have built a new vaccine infrastructure involving physical infrastructure, a workforce and IT resources. While there have been bumps along the way and will be more, this should not detract from the progress made so far. Thanks to the efforts of vaccination teams in every county, Ireland has one of the highest per capita rates of vaccine administration in the European Union. This is a good performance and one which should give confidence in the capacity and determination of the Government, the Department of Health, the HSE and the many partner agencies working with us to deliver this critical vaccination programme.
We are still in the early stages but things will move quickly as supplies coming into the country increase. There is optimism about the authorisation of additional vaccines, including one which can be administered with just one dose. People's hopes for safety and protection from Covid-19 and, ultimately, for a return to a more normal life are wrapped up in this vaccination programme. The relief and joy reported when front-line healthcare teams or nursing homes residents are vaccinated is testament to the fear, anxiety and stress many have been carrying for the past year.
Our ambition for Ireland and our strategy for the vaccine programme is that supply will be the only constraint. The principle behind the programme is that the roll-out is to be fair, safe and effective. The implementation plans have already changed and will change again as new vaccines are authorised, as supplies are updated and as new information becomes available. The principles and ambition, however, remain the same. Our national solidarity with those most at risk is really strong. When asked, most people say that they want those who need the vaccine most to get it first. These principles are why we accelerated vaccination in the nearly 600 nursing homes from Inishowen to Mizen and from Achill to Dublin city. It is why we are starting to vaccinate those aged 85 and older from next week with the most effective vaccines available.
We are securing our supply through advance purchase agreements made by the European Union. What we are trying to achieve, a mass vaccination programme of this scale, is challenging. There is no point in pretending otherwise. Just yesterday, the President of the European Commission said that the EU had made mistakes, for example, when it came to Article 16 and Northern Ireland. She also urged the bloc to stick with the current strategy saying that she could not imagine what would have happened if a handful of the bigger European countries had outbid the smaller European countries. The EU-27 approach is right for Ireland and for Europe as a whole. Without it, smaller countries like Ireland would have struggled to secure contracted supply. By working as part of the EU, we now have advance purchase agreements in place for almost 16 million vaccine doses.
We now have three highly effective and safe vaccines authorised for use for all adults. The next phase of our vaccination programme is scheduled to begin this coming Monday. GPs are inviting those aged 85 and older to be vaccinated. The view of the Chief Medical Officer echoed that of the national immunisation advisory committee. Dr. Holohan's advice to me, which I accepted, is that the superior efficacy demonstrated by mRNA vaccines, including in older people, and the particular vulnerability of members of this group should they get Covid-19 indicated that mRNA vaccines should be administered to all of those aged 70 years and older, where practicable. This advice is based on the validated clinical data available. Any new information on the effectiveness of the different vaccines will, of course, be reviewed as it becomes available.
The decision regarding the mRNA vaccines presented some pretty big logistical challenges for the HSE and for our GPs, given the need to store the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at such low temperatures. I acknowledge the work done by the HSE to adjust in a very short time. I also acknowledge the superb response of GPs right across the country and of the Irish Medical Organisation, IMO, in stepping up to this challenge. Approximately seven in every ten GP practices will be able to administer the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in their clinics. The HSE and the IMO are working with approximately 400 other smaller practices to implement local solutions. These include smaller GP practices coming together in hubs or joining up with larger GP practices. The plan is to distribute approximately 20,000 mRNA vaccines to the GP network next week specifically for those aged 85 and older. This will comprise approximately 8,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine and 12,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The following week, we plan to increase that figure to approximately 50,000 vaccine doses. The plan is to increase the figure again the week after that. As with all vaccine forecasts, these plans are entirely dependent on supplies arriving into Ireland.
There will be people who cannot make the journey to a GP. Local solutions are being put in place for them. The important thing is that no one will be left behind. A solution will be found for everyone who cannot make it to the GP. There are also people who do not have a GP. They, or their families, can contact the HSE helpline on 1850 24 1850.
One implication of using the mRNA vaccines for those aged 70 and older is that the vaccination of other cohorts can start earlier. On Monday of this week, we started to administer the first dose of vaccine for the remaining front-line workers. Next week, approximately 21,600 vaccine doses for this group will be distributed. Our plan is to have this group fully covered with its first dose this month. As with all vaccine forecasts, these plans are entirely dependent on supplies arriving into Ireland.
We are also working through the timing and sequencing of the fourth and later cohorts in the context of the decision on the mRNA vaccines. We can begin vaccinating these cohorts a little earlier as well. I hope to be in a position to update colleagues in the House in this regard next week.
In preparing for the ramping up of the vaccination programme, 5,800 vaccinators have been trained to date and we are adding to that on an ongoing basis. In time, we will need many more and detailed planning is being undertaken to that end.
Communications are, of course, essential to the vaccine programme and I am delighted to be able to share with the House the latest information we have that 85% of people surveyed now say that they will definitely, or probably, seek a vaccine. This figure has been moving steadily upwards. My view, and I believe the view of colleagues in the House, is that the more information we can provide publicly the better. To that end, two weeks ago I committed to colleagues that daily vaccine figures would be made available. These went online on the data hub last week and they were added to the Covid-19 tracker app yesterday. If people click on to their app, they will be asked to update the app and when that happens, they will now see the daily vaccine figures coming in on that also.
I also committed to ensuring that all Deputies and Senators received a daily briefing on the vaccine programme. That started this week, I believe on Tuesday, and I hope that colleagues will find this useful. If there is additional information that colleagues would like that would be useful to get on a daily or weekly basis, please just let me know and I will endeavour to get out all the information that they would find useful.
I finish by expressing my sincere thanks to colleagues in the Dáil and Seanad Éireann for their efforts in supporting the vaccine programme. While we will, of course, debate many of the operational aspects, as we should, Deputies and Senators right across the Oireachtas have shown invaluable solidarity in backing the safety and importance of the vaccine programme which is quite literally the light at the end of the tunnel. I thank the Ceann Comhairle.