Covid-19: HSE set to recruit additional 3,500 vaccinators

Health service approaching next phase of rollout with ‘great confidence’, HSE chief says

The HSE has sought expressions of interest from pharmacies interested in offering vaccinations. Photograph: iStock

The HSE has sought expressions of interest from pharmacies interested in offering vaccinations. Photograph: iStock

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The Health Service Executive is set to recruit up to 3,500 extra vaccinators in coming weeks, though it insists it has enough people ready to ramp up deliveries before they come into service.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid said the organisation was approaching the next phase of the rollout with “great confidence” as he outlined vaccine rollout plans for the weeks ahead.

However, at a press conference on Thursday, Mr Reid did not say precisely how April’s target of about 860,000 vaccinations administered would be met over the coming weeks.

Mr Reid said the HSE expected 180,000-190,000 doses would be administered next week and the following week “looks strong enough as well”.

Saying the target of about 860,000 was first mentioned by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and that it included people vaccinated at the start of the month as well, Mr Reid added: “We do see ourselves getting up towards 200,000 starting next week.”

The HSE has declined to say how many vaccinators it will have working each week in April, with Mr Reid previously saying it would vary depending on supplies.

Vaccination centres

Thirty-eight vaccination centres have been set up. So far, 17 have been used, and the rest will come on stream as vaccine deliveries increase.

Vaccination centres will be staffed by HSE staff and by full-time and part-time people recruited in local and national campaigns under way. So far, 1,100 recruits are already in place, or with contracts signed and with agreed start dates.

Another 700 are being finalised through a clearance process and a further 1,750 people have been identified through the recruitment process and are deemed suitable.

In all, 3,500 people are being readied for deployment, along with the HSE’s own 5,500 trained vaccinators. Mr Reid could not offer details on the number of the HSE’s existing staff that will work in the centres.

He said, “We want to get experienced people in” while acknowledging it would be a “draw on the system”.

GPs and pharmacists will also be used. “As we see it, April and May we’re resourced. We have our resources aligned around the volumes coming at us and we will scale it up further in June,” he said.

The HSE has sought expressions of interest from pharmacies interested in offering vaccinations, and work is under way on the IT system that would be required. A pilot will go live shortly.

Doctors, nurses and midwives, pharmacists, physiotherapists, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, dentists and optometrists are entitled to become vaccinators.

So far, more than 4,800 people have applied. The closing date for the national recruitment campaign is April 21st, though the closing date has been extended a number of times.

“We intend to keep rolling out the closing date as long as there is a level of interest in the role with a view to maximising the additional workforce required and to avoid putting at risk existing service provision,” Mr Reid said.