The Order of Malta, the Irish Red Cross and St John Ambulance have offered to help the State's Covid-19 vaccination campaign, but have yet to receive a reply from the Health Service Executive (HSE).
Peadar Ward, chief executive of the Order of Malta Ireland, said the voluntary paramedic organisation had offered its services to assist with the vaccine's roll-out. "We are still awaiting a response to our offer to assist," he said.
“We have a cadre of highly trained, suitably qualified personnel and we have offered our services to the State to facilitate the roll-out of the vaccine,” he told The Irish Times.
A spokeswoman for the Irish Red Cross also confirmed the charity had offered to support the vaccination programme and its roll-out. “Our volunteers remain on standby should our resources be required,” she said.
Paul Downes, director of communications with St John Ambulance, said it too had "offered to support the vaccination programme and we remain on standby to support the roll-out, should our volunteer resources be required".
A HSE spokeswoman said it was “currently utilising its own resource complement” to administer the vaccine.
“However, if the situation required, the HSE may request assistance from other agencies into the future,” she said. The matter would be kept under review with “decisions made when necessary on resources”, she added.
The HSE has said all vaccinators will be qualified healthcare professionals, who will receive specific training in the delivery of the Covid-19 vaccines.
The initial roll-out of the vaccine is focused on those in acute hospitals and long-term residential care settings, such as nursing homes.
General practitioners and pharmacists will form part of the vaccination plan in the second phase, when large numbers of doses are due to become available. Under this phase the vaccine will be delivered via GP clinics, pharmacies and in mass-vaccination centres.
This would likely follow approval by the European Medicines Agency of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which does not have to be stored at very low temperatures like the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
In Britain, both the Red Cross and St John Ambulance are assisting the National Health Service in the delivery of the vaccine. The British wing of St John Ambulance has been drafted in to train some 30,000 volunteers to help with the vaccination effort.
About a third of that number will be trained to administer the vaccine, while others will have roles reassuring people before they receive the injection or monitoring individuals for the 15 minutes required afterwards to watch for any adverse reactions.