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In Pictures: A look inside the Laois mass vaccination centre poised to open this week

It has hosted weddings, dinner dances lip sync battles, Bingo Loco nights and all sorts of events and conferences – but the main function room in the Midlands Park Hotel will become the focus of Laois’s battle against Covid-19.

From Wednesday, the Portlaoise venue will become a mass vaccination venue.

Members of the media and local politicians were given a sneak preview of what you can expect when you come here to receive your life saving shot.

From Wednesday, the centre will open and those aged 65-69 will be the first through the door as they are set to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.

These people are being asked to register on the HSE’s portal in order to receive a slot for their vaccination.

For the first three days, 374 people will be vaccinated in slots between 9am and 5pm each day.

The centre will be closed for the first two weekends but in May, things are set to significantly ramp up.

At full capacity, 1,200 vaccines can be given each day with the centre expected to be operation 12 hours per day and seven days a week.

HSE chiefs at the centre today are asking people aged 65-69 to register on the portal – with around 70% nationally having done so already.

The quicker people register, the quicker vaccines can be administered and the quicker the whole country can receive their jab.

People will be vaccinated on the basis of age – with the oldest 69 year old due to be vaccinated first on Wednesday.

Once you have received your appointment, you will arrive at the centre and engage in a wellness check.

Questions such as if you have any symptoms, been designated a close contact or enagaged in foreign travel should be anticipated.

If all is in order, you will proceed to the registration phase where ID such as Driver’s Licence, Passport or Social Security Card will be needed.

After that you proceed to the main room for vaccination.

You then wait in a seated area for 15 minutes to ensure everything is ok before heading home.

This centre will administer AstraZeneca only at first until all those aged 60-69 have been vaccinated.

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.