Some 4,000 people have applied to become vaccinators under the Health Service Executive recruitment campaign to staff mass Covid-19 vaccination centres.
The HSE had estimated it would need to recruit between 1,500 and 2,600 full-time vaccinators across the system. A spokeswoman said “4,000 applications have been received through the national recruitment campaign for new vaccinators and are in the process of being screened and cleared”.
The campaign was unveiled in February, with the application deadline extended several times, until March 23rd.
About 40 mass vaccination centres will be set up countrywide to administer large numbers of Covid-19 vaccines as supplies increase in coming weeks and months.
“These new vaccinator roles . . . will support local recruitment competitions for vaccinators and other roles on the vaccination teams,” said the spokeswoman.
“The vaccination process is limited only by supply and we will continue to roll out the vaccine programme as fast as supply allows,” she added.
Only personnel from certain fields were able to apply. These included doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, paramedics, physiotherapists, emergency medical technicians as well as dentists and optometrists.
Existing part-time HSE employees will also be able to apply to pick up additional hours working as vaccinators.
Some 668,529 doses of the vaccine have been administered in the State, as of March 19th. This includes 487,466 people who have received their first dose, and 181,063 who have received the required two doses.
In recent weeks the rollout has been beset with supply issues, leading to the numbers projected to receive vaccines this spring being scaled back.
At present the rollout is focused on the over-70s, and after that will move to the medically vulnerable and those with high-risk conditions. Healthcare workers, and residents and staff in nursing homes, were the first two cohorts to receive vaccines.
The Order of Malta, Red Cross and St John Ambulance had all also offered their services and volunteers as vaccinators to help the national effort.
However, the HSE plans to focus on staffing the vaccination centres with a contracted workforce, available to administer vaccines on a mostly full-time basis.
Trevor Holmes, Irish Red Cross secretary general, said following talks with the HSE it had identified about 250 qualified practitioners "who will be available to either work or volunteer as vaccinators in centres around the country. The majority of the Irish Red Cross vaccinators will be utilised in the small, local vaccination centres when they come on stream."
Red Cross volunteers would also assist in other roles at vaccination centres, he said. “These roles are likely to include acting as social-distancing stewards, crewing first-aid rooms at vaccination centres and related support roles,” he added.