HSE apologises after long wait times for booster shots at Citywest walk-in centre

Scheduling error meant many people called for vaccination that were not eligible today

The centre was overwhelmed by people who had appointments for booster shots along with those in the 60 to 69 age group who turned up because it was also designated as a walk-in centre. Photograph: Ronan McGreevy

The centre was overwhelmed by people who had appointments for booster shots along with those in the 60 to 69 age group who turned up because it was also designated as a walk-in centre. Photograph: Ronan McGreevy

 

The HSE has apologised after many people were left waiting five hours for a booster shot on Saturday at Citywest vaccination centre in Dublin.

The centre was overwhelmed by people who had appointments for booster shots along with those in the 60 to 69 age group who turned up because it was also designated as a walk-in centre.

There were long queues too for the Covid-19 test centre on site which led to traffic jams in the area.

Many people took 2½ hours just to get into the car park of the Convention Centre. The queue at one stage stretched back to the junction to the M7 motorway.

Angela O’Toole described the situation as “absolutely disgraceful”. She and her husband John live a 15-minute drive away in Clondalkin and got caught in traffic. They had appointments for 1.55pm. They finally got a vaccine at 5pm.

“I never witnessed anything like this. This is our booster jab and that’s the length of time it has taken us,” she said.

Pat Foster from Palmerstown had an appointment for 12.45pm and still had not received his vaccine at 5pm. He said there was nobody to manage the traffic queues into the Convention Centre with just one entrance and exit.

Gerry Heffernan said it took him 2½ hours in a car just to get from Tallaght to the Citywest Convention Centre, a distance of 5km. He had an appointment at 3pm.

Barbara Keogh said she left Newland’s Cross at 1.50pm and did not arrive in the Convention Centre until 4.45pm. “We were told when we arrived that there were would be a three-hour queue. I said there is no conceivable way I’m going to wait that long.”

One woman, who did not want to be named, said she was an hour queuing just to get into the car park. Her appointment was at 1.15pm. She got into the car park at 2pm and did not receive her vaccine until 5pm.

‘Unprecedented demand’

In response, the HSE said it faced “unprecedented demand” at the centre. It said a local scheduling error meant many people were called for vaccination that were not eligible for one today.

The HSE continued: “The team in Citywest would like to apologise to these people and the people who experienced long delays. Our operations team at Citywest made every effort to lessen the inconvenience and is reviewing operations with a view to improving the flow and throughput at the site.

“The team will be in direct contact to reschedule any appointments that could not happen today. People who did not get their appointment today will receive another appointment. Tomorrow there is a vaccination clinic for 60 to 69 year olds from 8.15am to 1pm and a clinic for health care workers from 1pm to 7.15pm.”

Many people complained on social media about the delays. Emma Ross said she had an appointment for her baby to get a Covid-19 test at 3.05pm. “We left in loads of time. So far, we have been an hour and a half in traffic getting off the N7. Still can’t even see the entrance to Citywest yet,” she tweeted, half an hour after her scheduled appointment.

A woman named Trice Hosford turned up at 10.55am to “massive queues. After 40 minutes waiting, and as I got to the top of the queue, we were informed a load of appointments were sent in error to non-immunocompromised people like myself so we would be no-shows too. We were sent home.”

Sally Ann O’Neill tweeted: “There is chaos at Citywest now, I don’t know how there hasn’t been a serious accident on the N7 – cars trying to cut in on queues. When you arrive with an appointment you are told to go to back of queue behind walk-ins. Clinics should have two queues – one for appointments and one for walk-in.”