THE Covid-19 vaccination programme has been described as an ‘omnishambles’ by a medical practice in Castletownbere which said it is unable to run a vaccination clinic without vaccines.
From incorrect orders, to lack of basic information, Dr Colin Gleeson and Dr Fiona Kelly, who have run the Bank Place Clinic for the past 11 years, told The Southern Star that the process has been the most stressful element of their careers to date.
‘We have not received our correct orders. We were left short by 15% in our first order and 52% in our second. Our orders have not been acknowledged or confirmed until the delivery day, or day before. Therefore it is impossible to organise clinics until the vaccines arrive,’ they said in a statement.
They said this is creating huge stress, not just for staff, but also for their patients who are being told at short notice that they can be vaccinated. They are also highly critical of the quantities that they and other rural practices are receiving, with another practice in the locality getting 300 Moderna vaccines unexpectedly.
‘There is no logic that one practice in a remote rural area should receive an unscheduled excess delivery of vaccines, while the other practice receives none,’ they added.
They do not accept the HSE’s explanation that remote rural practices are getting several times the vaccine doses ordered to ‘minimise’ the number of deliveries. They had four different deliveries on a single day for one small batch of vaccines. They said the procedure for ordering vaccines has changed many times without prior notice, and that they have not received any communication regarding vaccines for housebound patients.
Trying to secure vaccinations for their practice staff – who only got their first vaccine 10 days ago – was ‘nothing short of an ordeal’, the statement said.
‘An online portal had to be completed on three occasions, and to add insult to injury, the vaccination clinics for the frontline practice staff were located in Portlaoise, Dublin, Galway and Sligo.’
They said there has been a lot of ‘fluffy PR announcements with unfilled promises from the HSE’
‘We in general practice are ready, willing and able – just give us the vaccines and we will vaccinate!’ they added.
Meanwhile, the HSE has confirmed that the opening dates for the public vaccination centres in Bantry and Clonakilty are not yet confirmed as they are dependent on vaccine supply.
‘The programme also needs to reach the point in the government’s priority allocation groups where the cohorts include the general public,’ said a spokesperson.
The HSE added: ‘The vaccination programme is limited internationally by the supply of vaccine and our programme to date has ensured that all available vaccine is distributed and administered as quickly as possible..
Also, the HSE, along with gardaí and the Department of Health, are warning members of the public about potential scams relating to the Covid-19 vaccine.
‘We would ask that members of the public make contact with any vulnerable friends or family to make them aware of these calls and text messages,’ said a garda spokesperson.