Thursday, 1 April 2021
Vaccination Programme and Covid-19: Statements
I am sharing time with Deputy Danny Healy-Rae.
I have raised numerous concerns in respect of health and Covid-19 and my questions over recent months, week in, week out, are never answered. To co-operate, I email the questions to the Department straight after raising them in the House in the expectation of an answer but, as of yet, I have never had an answer from the Minister. He might think it is fine to ignore the concerns of the people of west Cork but his party's candidates will suffer at the doorstep in the next election campaign due to his failure to respond to simple questions week after week.
Today I raise the concerns of members of the Garda, as I have done over recent weeks. They have been dropped down the list for vaccines. They have been working on the front line throughout the pandemic but are left at the back of the pack when it comes to vaccines. Will the Minister give a straight answer? When will members of the Garda who want to be vaccinated get their vaccines? In light of the changes to the roll-out that were announced earlier this week, when will teachers, SNAs and school secretaries, who work with large numbers of pupils in west Cork and throughout the country, be vaccinated? They cannot be dropped down the pecking order. They have to be prioritised.
I have raised grave concerns for housebound elderly people in Cork and Kerry, who number up to 2,000 in their 80s and 90s. Only 5% of these people have been vaccinated to date. The National Ambulance Service has been designated to roll out their vaccines but it is overstretched. Surely the local GP or even pharmacist should be allowed to call to their houses and administer vaccines. These people need to be respected and not forgotten. Will the Minister change the guidance regarding who can administer vaccines to these elderly people?
I would appreciate if the Minister could answer last week's question. Why did GP clinics in Clonakilty and Bantry that contacted me each get up to 200 fewer vaccine doses than it should have got? This was a cause for serious upset for the people of Clonakilty, Timoleague, Courtmacsherry, Barryroe, Rosscarbery, Ballinascarty, Kealkill, Durrus, Glengarriff and other such areas that were expecting to get vaccines. What I cannot understand is that Beacon Hospital in Dublin had 200 vaccine doses left over but in west Cork our GPs are getting 200 too few. What is wrong here? What is wrong with the roll-out? We have a very serious situation. Our tourism and hospitality sector is suffering severely because the roll-out of vaccines is not getting to the places it should.
There is one other issue I keep raising, on which the Minister keeps failing to give me an answer, relates to the endoscopy and physiotherapy units that were promised to the people of Bantry. Why has the Minister not delivered on that? Where are we in that regard?
I would appreciate a written reply to all my questions.