The co-leader of the Social Democrats Róisín Shortall has called on the Minister for Health “to be frank” about who will be administering the coronavirus vaccine.
What role will GPs and pharmacists play, she asked on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.
Ms Shortall asked would retired nurses and doctors be brought back to administer the vaccine given that the health service was already at capacity.
The Minister also needed to explain the timescale of the vaccination programme. There is a high level of expectation from people over when they could access the service, she said. Nothing is known about delivery dates, she added.
The HSE is not ready as it does not have an IT system in place to record and trace vaccinations or for informed consent, Ms Shortall said, adding that this is “inexcusable”.
The vaccination programme had been due to commence in nursing homes on Monday, but that had not happened, pointed out Ms Shortall. She acknowledged that there were “several outbreaks” of Covid-19 in nursing homes, at last count there were 50. That would delay delivery of the vaccine.
Delivery of the vaccine seemed to be the problem, said Ms Shortall. She also expressed disappointment that only 4,000 vaccinations had been carried out to date.
The Government should take the advice of the Chief Medical Officer with regard to the reopening of schools, she urged. But she wanted a decision to be taken soon so families could plan.
Ms Shortall said that the Minister for Education had a responsibility to set out an Education Plan for the coming weeks as education needed to continue especially for vulnerable children and those with special needs along with the children of providers of essential services.
A structured programme for remote education should be implemented, she said. Decisions would need to be taken soon with regard to this year’s State exams as “a lot of students were very concerned. This is a very anxious time, the sooner the situation is made clear the better".