Covid-19: Lack of second mass vaccination centre in Galway ‘surprising’

Clifden centre needed in addition to Ballybrit facility, Sinn Féin TD says

A Covid-19 vaccination area  at St Mary’s Hospital in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

A Covid-19 vaccination area at St Mary’s Hospital in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The decision to locate just one mass Covid-19 vaccination centre in Co Galway is “surprising” given the size of the county, Sinn Féin TD Mairéad Farrell has said.

The Galway TD said a second centre around the Clifden area would be needed in addition to the facility at the Galway Racecourse in Ballybrit.

The locations of the 37 Covid-19 mass vaccination centres set to be established across the State were published by the Department of Health on Monday.

There is at least one in each of the 26 counties, with five sites in Cork, four in Dublin and two in Kerry, Wicklow, Westmeath and Tipperary.

“It is surprising with the size of the county that there isn’t more than one in Galway,” Ms Farrell told The Irish Times. “Obviously it’s welcome that we have one but the reality is it’s the second-largest county in Ireland and it does really need one in more localised settings.

“If we take Cleggan, which is in Co Galway, it’s an hour and 40 minutes to get from there to Ballybrit for a vaccination.

“A lot of people on the islands are really concerned that they’re going to have to get a boat, then get public transport to get to a vaccination centre. They can’t be forgotten about.”

Independent TD Denis Naughten said it was “imperative” that the vaccination centres facilitate people “regardless of their address”.

“I have a fear that these centres could exclude people outside their GP catchment, the county where they are based or outside the relevant community health area,” the Roscommon-Galway TD said. “This would be totally unacceptable and cause unnecessary difficulty for people accessing the Covid vaccine.

“For example, east Galway is a large geographic area with no vaccination centre. People residing here should be able to register for a vaccination in Roscommon town or Athlone, if this is more convenient for them, instead of having to travel to Galway city.”

Limerick centre

Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan also questioned the lack of a vaccination centre in Limerick city, adding that the decision to locate one at the Radisson Blu Hotel on the Ennis Road “beggars belief”.

“One must wonder the extent of local consultation that was sought by the Department of Health in choosing this location.This decision demonstrates a lack of imagination and foresight,” he said.

“It is illogical to put the centre in a location that is remote for many city residents. The next cohort of people to be scheduled to avail of the vaccine are our more senior citizens. Many of these citizens are dependent on public transport and the selection of this location will put a burden on them.”

Independent Limerick councillor Frankie Daly, who is also on the board of the Regional Health Forum West, said: “I’m absolutely shocked at the whole thing, Limerick is the poor relation, and the Minister and the Taoiseach need to be called out on it.”

Cllr Daly said the vaccination centre earmarked for Limerick at the hotel is actually located in Co Clare, about a mile from the Limerick border, “so Limerick actually technically doesn’t even have any vaccination centre”.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said all of the centres were selected based on population density, ease of access, transport and parking. There are two centres in his own Wicklow constituency.