Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Friday, 29 January 2021
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health
Covid-19 Vaccination Programme: Update
I welcome the witnesses and acknowledge the work being done in the vaccination programme's roll-out, including trying to make it as fair as possible. Nothing frustrates people more than others skipping the queue or, rather, being perceived as skipping the queue.
I feel let down by AstraZeneca and the issues surrounding it. I hope that a solution can be arrived at quickly. It smacks of big business taking advantage of a difficult situation, particularly given the €336 million investment made by the EU and, by extension, the taxpayers of Europe.
The witnesses have answered many questions about pharmacists. Pharmacists are at the heart of many communities and play a key role in administering vaccines. They have the skills and training and are trusted. Every year, they administer the flu vaccine. They do a good job. Their potential to support communities and provide services has not been realised across a range of areas.
I will ask a couple of questions. Deputy Crowe mentioned GPs. What percentage of GPs have been vaccinated?
I have been approached by chartered physiotherapists, who literally play a hands-on role dealing with clients, be they people with bad backs, bad necks or whatever else. In terms of placement on the list, they are not regarded as being front-line workers who engage with people despite the fact that they have very close contacts.
The situation regarding pregnant women is being reviewed. Currently, they are at the bottom of the list alongside children and adults. According to this document, that is to be refined. Presumably, we are awaiting data from other countries. What is the rationale? When will their placement be refined or reviewed?
I hope that only a small number of people have received their first doses out of sequence. When will they be receiving their second doses? People have asked me that question.
Many people believe that, if they get vaccinated, they will be cleared to go and will not have to be restricted. For example, if foreign holidays were permitted, they believe they could go and return. Some clarity is needed. Actually, not clarity, rather, it should be communicated that the vaccines do not stop people from transmitting the virus, only from getting ill. This shows why everyone must keeping doing the things we have been trained to do over the past year and following the habits we have developed and why everyone who is willing needs to be vaccinated.