Seanad debates

Monday, 29 March 2021

Covid-19 Vaccination Programme: Statements

 

10:30 am

Photo of Jerry ButtimerJerry Buttimer (Fine Gael)

I thank Senator Burke for sharing time. I welcome the Minister and wish him well. The vaccination programme is the single most important public health campaign in a century and we must have confidence in it. I commend the Minister for the work he is doing. I ask him to expedite work with regard to the role of our pharmacists in the vaccination programme. Our pharmacists play a key role. Under SI 60/2021, the remuneration of pharmacists involved in the vaccination programme has been set. I ask that this be adhered to and followed up on. The vaccination programme is the gateway out of Covid-19 and will allow us to celebrate mass and remember the passion of Our Lord during Holy Week rather than engaging in rhetoric in this House. We all support what the Minister is doing. It is important the public health response keeps all of our citizens safe. That is what aim to do - to keep all of our citizens safe.

How many pharmacists are involved in the vaccination programme? I do not expect the Minister to have the answer with him but I ask him to come back to me on it. We need more pharmacists employed in the mass vaccination centres. The programme is a critical platform through which to give people a new sense of hope as we stand on the cusp of a decision by Government, in conjunction with NPHET. I ask that the contract signed with the pharmacists be in keeping with the statutory instrument.

We should also communicate more clearly with people. As the Minister knows quite well, there is great frustration because of the lack of supply. We should look at and work with the points made by Senator Burke regarding the pharmaceutical industry here. The Minister should level with people, communicate with them and give them a sense of hope. A generation of people over 80 and between 75 and 80 have got their first and second jabs and they are looking forward to the summer with optimism.

The Minister has a difficult job. I chaired the Joint Committee on Health and Children for five years so I know the pressures he is under. He should be assured that we will work with him and walk with him. Ní neart go cur le chéile. It is together we can win, not through the gamesmanship we are seeing today.

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