Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, has said that more detail with clear timeframes and transparency is needed on the rollout of the Covid vaccine.
He said that there is a lack of substantial detail on staffing levels, dose deliveries and the infrastructure required to deliver mass vaccination; which may prevent a clear exit strategy.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“The rollout of the vaccine represents one of the biggest challenges of 2021. Quite simply we have to get it right. An all-hands-on-deck approach is required to ensure a safe, speedy and efficient rollout programme.
“We have seen with test and trace that under-resourced public health departments with staff shortages and antiquated IT systems has created real problems.
“It is vital that public health departments are properly resourced and that GPs and pharmacists are also centrally involved in the rollout as soon as higher numbers of doses arrive.
“It is vital that we have full transparency and detail on staffing and infrastructure.
“How many staff will be needed, and where will they come from? How many are currently in place and when it is envisaged to establish mass vaccination centres?
“We are told that the vaccine will be delivered in mass vaccination centres and this is something Sinn Féin called for but these are still a concept, and more detail is required.
“We have learned from an internal HSE report that there are severe staffing and resource shortages in public health, and there are looming strikes.
“Other qualified individuals will need to be redeployed to the vaccination programme, and more will need to be trained.
“Redeployment has had a severe impact on other areas of healthcare such as stroke rehabilitation, child development checks, and across mental health and disability services.
“Estimates on how long it will take to reach a sufficient level of immunity to make a real difference differ and depend on the number of vaccine doses we receive and when.
“This is something outside of our control but it is important we have regular reporting of dose arrivals as well as administration.
“As more vaccines get regulatory approval we may need capacity to administer 100,000 doses or more a week. It is vital this capacity is in place and there is a clear role for GPs and pharmacies to assist in such as mass rollout.
“We cannot underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead of us. It will be the largest vaccination programme in the history of this state and indeed the island.
“The Health Committee must play its part in overseeing the implementation plan but it needs more detail to know what practical steps will be taken.
“Ground was lost in health care in 2020 which will take years to get back. Covid related hospitalisations are rising and this will stretch hospitals to capacity and potentially delay again delivery of non-Covid related Health Care.
“The bottom line is there can be no room for underinvestment or undue delay in this vaccine rollout. We must get this right.”