Seanad debates

Monday, 29 March 2021

Covid-19 Vaccination Programme: Statements


10:30 am

Róisín Garvey (Green Party)

I welcome the Minister back to the House, I am sure his time is precious during the crisis. I welcome the resumption of visits to the old folks homes. It is massive and means so much to people to be able to see their families twice a week. It is a step in the right direction and it is hard not to get teary-eyed thinking of people being able to see their families again. I am pleased that we can do 105,000 vaccinations in the next week, which is quite impressive. No one has had to do this before. There will always be faults but everyone here, including ourselves, want this to be dealt with as soon as possible in the best and fairest way. What happened in the Beacon, and in another case where there were 15 vaccines, is appalling, of course, but it is probably 50 vaccines out of 900,000 we have distributed to date. I do not know if it should be the big news story of the day. We have to give people hope and everyone is trying to do their best, including the Minister. It is massive that we are going to have 37 mass vaccination centres, which we see working so well in other countries. We must all support everyone in every way we can with the roll out.

However, it is never perfect. On the vaccine distribution, everyone has a PPS number. I have friends who run old folks homes where all have been vaccinated except for four new patients. The manager has had, say, ten different phone calls from three different sections of the HSE looking to arrange the vaccines of those four. I do not know what is happening there but somehow there is a disconnect. That needs to be looked into because we need to ensure that the vaccine is only going to one person, yet they are being offered it from three different avenues in the same organisation. My computer science degree is very old but even I could write a programme to see how to use PPS numbers to ensure there is no overlap.

The second thing I wish to highlight is the importance of resuming some procedures outside of vaccinations in hospitals. People are facing life-threatening illnesses and hospitals are probably the safest places now. Everyone who works in them has been vaccinated and they all use PPE. The health and safety standards in hospitals are as safe as anywhere in Ireland yet people cannot go in for procedures. For example, my friend's five-year-old daughter is one of 18 people in the world with a form of dwarfism where she has been on life support three times. She has missed her last three appointments, which would have seen what the next steps were for her to give her the quality of life she needs. Everyone cannot be prioritised and everyone has a story, but when can we give them some hope of resuming appointments? This girl has a consultant in Crumlin hospital where it is very safe and where everyone has been vaccinated. We need to strike a balance.I hope the Minister is getting some sleep at night. This whole situation is torturous. I believe that if there were no issues around the supply of vaccines, we would be much further ahead by now. If there is any way we can support the Minister further, I volunteer to do that.


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