Thursday, 1 April 2021
Vaccination Programme and Covid-19: Statements
I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle. I first acknowledge the work done by the front-line workers at all levels throughout the country in this long difficult battle. They have given everything and still have to give more because there is still time to travel with this virus and it is a challenging time. It appears to me that the crucial issue at this stage is the availability of vaccines, together with the practising of isolation, social distancing, hand hygiene etc. to the maximum extent possible. There are a couple of worrying factors. We all have people who have been in touch with us who can point out breaches in social distancing, in the meeting of groups and congregations, which are unnecessary other than for recreational purposes. I ask that instead of pointing fingers at one another that we encourage one another to observe the social distancing and everything that is deemed to be helpful in the fight against the virus and to, at the same time, ensure that the country can avail of extra doses of vaccine at short notice if it is needed. One thing that would be unhelpful at this stage is if it should transpire that a glitch in the system might cause further delay in the availability of vaccines.
Can the Minister have regard to the concerns of gardaí and teachers who have direct dealings with the public in different ways and to bear their concerns in mind with a view to taking specific steps, in the event of that being needed, in the shortest possible time? They have to do their jobs in any event and they will be called upon in various emergencies that will expose them to possible infection.
My last point is on the predictions. I am somewhat concerned about predictions as it can be both beneficial and negative. We have to give hope to people and the more that the Minister can say to generate that hope the better at this particular stage.