‘I’m really glad this day finally arrived’: Hundreds queue for Covid-19 vaccines

Teenagers make up majority seeking vaccination at Croke Park walk-in centre

Cathal Fitzpatrick with his daughter Almha, from Sutton, at the HSE Covid-19 vaccination walk-in centre, in Croke Park. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Cathal Fitzpatrick with his daughter Almha, from Sutton, at the HSE Covid-19 vaccination walk-in centre, in Croke Park. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

In scenes reminiscent of Croke Park on an All-Ireland final day, queues of several hundred people stretched down the road as the Covid-19 walk-in vaccination centre opened in the stadium on Monday morning.

Almha Fitzpatrick (17), from Sutton, north Dublin, was one of those waiting in line with her father, Cathal.

“It’s a long queue but I’m very very happy to get here,” she said. The last year and a half had been “rough”, and school had been difficult due to Covid-19 disruptions.

“I’m happy to see some kind of ending because that was the worst part, I felt like it was never going to end,” she said.

The teenager had not expected to receive the vaccine until September or October, so was “delighted” at the pace the rollout reached her age cohort.

Lots of her friends had been vaccinated at walk-in clinics over the bank holiday weekend, “because they want to get it as soon as possible”, she said.

The vaccine would mean “getting to go out and not have to worry”, she said.

“I work in an ice-cream shop down in Howth, we see a lot of people down there, not always wearing masks, so it is nice to have a bit of safety,” she said.

Siddhant Jain (28), who is originally from India, was in the queue at 8.25am, five minutes before the centre opened.

Following a two-hour wait, he received his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. “After a year it did feel good to finally get the jab,” he said.

Siddhant Jain (28), who is originally from India, was in the queue at 8.25am, five minutes before the centre opened. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Siddhant Jain (28), who is originally from India, was in the queue at 8.25am, five minutes before the centre opened. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Like many in the queue he had registered for an appointment on the Health Service Executive (HSE) online vaccine portal, but opted for the earlier option at the walk-in clinic.

“I actually had an appointment for tomorrow, but it’s for Citywest and I live in Drumcondra, so that’s why I chose here, it makes sense,” he said.

When he is fully vaccinated in a few weeks’ time, a holiday abroad will be the first thing on his agenda: “I’ve been waiting for that for a long long time, I will be visiting a few of my friends in the UK,” he said.

‘Weight off my shoulders’

Claudia Verdecchia, a 28-year-old Italian living in Dublin, joined the back of the queue at 11.30am, which had stretched down along Jones’ Road.

“I think it’s great that they decided to do a walk-in service, the turnout is obviously great,” she said. “I had an appointment for next week but I decided to come today just to get it done with,” she added.

She was most looking forward to “seeing my family and my friends without worrying and feeling the pressure of spreading the virus, not having to worry about that will be a weight off my shoulders”.

Lalia Suassuna, from Brazil, is a bartender in Dublin, and said the vaccine would allow her to “protect myself and others” while at work. “I’m really glad that this day has finally arrived, we’ve tried so hard to get the vaccine,” she said.

Lalia Suassuma, at Croke Park walk-in vaccination centre, is a bartender in Dublin, and says the vaccine will allow her to protect herself and others while at work. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill
Lalia Suassuma, at Croke Park walk-in vaccination centre, is a bartender in Dublin, and says the vaccine will allow her to protect herself and others while at work. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Living away from family during the pandemic had been difficult, so she said she was eager to be able to travel abroad again.

Jack Corr, manager of the Croke Park vaccination centre, said given the city centre location they had anticipated the walk-in clinic would be “really busy”.

Jack Corr, manager of the Croke Park vaccination centre: ‘needles in arms, that’s what we want’. he says. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Jack Corr, manager of the Croke Park vaccination centre: ‘needles in arms, that’s what we want’. he says. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The centre had 10 vaccination booths, all of which were staffed on Monday. “They come in and we vaccinate as many as we can, needles in arms, that’s what we want,” he said.

By lunchtime, 500 people had been vaccinated in the centre, with expectations more than 1,000 would be inoculated by the end of the day.

Most of those who attended the walk-in service were under 20 years of age, however there were “a few” older people, who wanted the vaccine to allow them to holiday abroad, Mr Corr said.

“The older ones are here because they want to go away… It’s mainly [for the] holiday you know, people who didn’t want to get vaccinated before now, because everybody wants to travel,” he said.

Some 18,000 people availed of walk-in centres across the country over Saturday and Sunday. From Tuesday mass vaccination centres will return to operating on an appointment-only basis.

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