‘I’ll get to go out once I get the second dose’: Patients at UCD vaccine centre

Vaccine centres quiet in Dublin as small numbers show up for first shots and boosters

 Fadzai Makokove: got her second vaccination at UCD. Photograph: Alan Betson

Fadzai Makokove: got her second vaccination at UCD. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

It is quiet outside the UCD vaccination centre in Belfield, Dublin, on Tuesday afternoon, where appointment-only patients arrive every 10 or 15 minutes.

It’s a vastly different scene compared to the queues of hundreds of people who lined up outside the walk-in Covid-19 vaccination centre at Croke Park in early August, many of whom waited for more than two hours for their first dose.

Fadzai Makokove (27) arrived by appointment for her second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Fadzai’s “big fear of needles and injections” prevented her from getting a Covid-19 vaccine earlier in the rollout.

“I was a bit scared at first but then the majority of people were getting vaccinated and everyone I know was encouraging me to go as well,” she told The Irish Times.

“When I went for my first dose, the lady was very patient and it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. So I’m glad I got it now, especially with winter approaching,” she said.

First dose

Fadzai had her first dose at O’Reilly Hall, a large building in UCD typically used for graduation ceremonies, which at its peak vaccinated up to 1,000 people per day.

Since then, there has been a major scaling-back of vaccine centres across the country, with more than 90 per cent of Irish adults already fully vaccinated. Now, vaccine appointments in UCD are carried out in a far smaller building across the campus.

Another “major driver” for Fadzai to get her Covid-19 vaccine was the requirement to have a vaccination certificate to access restaurants, pubs and nightclubs.

“My friends have been going out and I couldn’t get access to a lot of things, but now I’ll get to go out once I’m finished with the second dose,” she said.

John Fish (20) showed up at the centre to try to get his second dose of Pfizer.

“I got my first one in the Aviva and they arranged a second appointment but it didn’t suit me. I haven’t had the chance to get it until today because I work and go to college,” he said.

‘A bit stupid’

“I live near here so I thought I’d walk in but it’s appointment-only today. They said it will be walk-in tomorrow, even though it’s advertised online as walk-in. So it’s a bit stupid but I will come back.”

Eva Acton was one of several people who showed up for booster shots, and she was “kind of surprised to get a call so soon” after only five months post-second dose of Pfizer.

Belfield vaccination centre: A “major driver” is the requirement to have a vaccination certificate to access restaurants, pubs and nightclubs. Photograph: Alan Betson
Belfield vaccination centre: A “major driver” is the requirement to have a vaccination certificate to access restaurants, pubs and nightclubs. Photograph: Alan Betson

“I had no problem at all going for them. With the first two doses, I didn’t even have a sore arm,” she said.

Despite being fully vaccinated, Eva has only been socialising with people outdoors because some people she knows do not want to have the vaccine.

“I don’t get it but I haven’t tried to convince them, it’s their decision. It’s been fine with me to sit outside because the weather has been good. But, come the colder weather, I won’t want to.”

So far, boosters have been provided to three groups only: over-80s, people in residential care aged over 65; and those who may be immunocompromised. To date, more than 100,000 boosters have been administered.

The Health Service Executive is expected to begin administering booster vaccines to more than 800,000 people aged 60-80 at the start of November.

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