GREATER detail and transparency is required in terms of rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine: that’s the view of Waterford TD and Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson David Cullinane.
When it comes to the roll-out, Deputy Cullinane stated: “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.”
He continued: “It is vital that public health departments are properly resourced and that GPs and pharmacists are also centrally involved in the roll-out as soon as higher numbers of doses arrive.”
Deputy Cullinane said it was “vital” that full transparency in relation to staffing and infrastructure is provided as promptly and clearly as possible.
“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 (has) called for but these are still concepts – more detail is required.”
Referring to staffing and resource shortages within the public health system, along with the prospect of strike action, Deputy Cullinane said that “other qualified individuals will need to be redeployed to the vaccination programme, and more will need to be trained”.
He continued: “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 depends 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 gain regulatory approval, Deputy Cullinane said the system may require the capacity to administer over 100,000 doses per 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 roll-out,” he commented.
“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 (Oireachtas) 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.”
Deputy Cullinane concluded: “The bottom line is there can be no room for underinvestment or undue delay in this vaccine roll-out. We must get this right.”