System issues | 

Taoiseach defends booster roll out after people are turned away from vaccination centres

'The agenda and motivation here is to get as many people as protected as we possibly can'
Taoiseach Micheál Martin

Taoiseach Micheál Martin

Clodagh Meaney

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has defended the roll out of the booster vaccination programme

It comes as people were turned away from vaccine centres at Croke Park and UCD today, leaving the government and HSE to face criticism about the programme.

In a media address today, Micheál Martin apologised for the inconvenience and defended the booster programme.

“We want to make vaccines as accessible to people as we possibly can and many people have been vaccinated through the booster, that needs to be acknowledged.”

There are many centres across the country which have been very busy today but were much calmer than the centre in UCD this morning.”

The HSE tweeted this morning informing people eligible for a booster vaccine that the UCD centre was at capacity and advised people to visit the Shoreline vaccination centre 35 minutes away.

While people experienced waiting times of up to 90 minutes at centres across the country, people were told not to attend the centre at Croke Park as it had reached full capacity by the afternoon.

“We don't like to have to say to people that it's over subscribed and to turn them away and we apologise to people in that position, but, overall the agenda and motivation here is a simple one, it's to get as many people as protected as we possibly can," the Taoiseach said.

“The HSE have acknowledged the system's issues, but also we would say when offers are made people need to go for it and I think people are and I think there's a greater awareness around Omicron.”

Further addressing the issue, Martin said that part of the issue today was that the programme is being extended to other cohorts.

Walk-in clinics are currently open to people aged 50-69 and healthcare workers who had their second vaccine over five months ago.

They are also open to people over the age of 12 who wish to receive the first or second dose of the vaccination.

A pop-up Covid-19 vaccination clinic (Steven Paston/PA)

A pop-up Covid-19 vaccination clinic (Steven Paston/PA)

The Taoiseach emphasised that those who are eligible to get a booster should do so to help protect yourself against Covid.

“The booster really enhances your protection, not only against Delta, but against Omicron, it is the primary weapon we have, and people have, in terms of protecting themselves against Covid.”

“The important point is, the booster does work and it can work within days in increasing your protection against [Covid].”

“It is our greatest primary protection against disease and severe illness and if you take the booster, you reduce, very significantly, very, very significantly your chances of ending up in hospital or in ICU.”

When asked about the vaccine rollout to children between age five and 11, the Taoiseach said he did not want to pre-empt how the HSE might vaccinate children in the over 3,000 primary schools across the country.

“Think of the logistics of having teams at every single school.”

“The HSE in particular will work up an operational plan on what's the best way to vaccinate children and they will announce that when they have that plan decided upon, and I think it's best to wait for that concrete announcement from the HSE.”

“The team involved have been very effective and successful in terms of vaccination. Ok in the current week there has been missed appointments and that but overall it has been a very successful vaccine programme.”

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