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Three mass vaccination centres for GPs to run tomorrow

Daily vaccination figures will be published from 25 January.

Image: Shutterstock/Tong_stocker

THE CHAIR OF the government’s high-level Covid-19 vaccine task force has said officials will “learn a lot” from the three pilot mass vaccination centres in place this weekend.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly confirmed earlier that three mass vaccination clinics will be set up tomorrow in Dublin Citywest, Galway and Portlaoise, Co Laois to vaccinate GP teams. 

The first batch of around 1,800 Moderna Covid-19 vaccines will be used in these centres.

Professor Brian MacCraith, Chair of Ireland’s High-Level Task Force on Covid-19 Vaccination said: “I think we will learn a lot from that and the HSE estates team has been in advanced planning around this issue for weeks, maybe months, and I’ll probably visit some of these myself over the weekend to get a sense of how they operate.”

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s News at One, he said this will “support the GP communities that are going to play such a critical role in the vaccination rollout”. 

He said the country could soon be receiving “hundreds of thousands of vaccinations per week”. 

Further mass vaccination centres “will be distributed regionally, and represent and reflect the demographic distribution”, MacCraith said. 

He said that the task force is “looking at all possible sources of scaling up the vaccinated workforce beyond where it is at the moment”. 

“We have a lot of offers from various sources. For example, talking to the Irish College of General Practitioners… but also cohorts of retired GPS have approached us, hospitals have offered weekend and evening clinics.”

At its peak, he said the rollout would require 2,500-3,000 vaccinators and that over 4,000 people have so far undertaken vaccine-specific training online. 

Ireland might need to re-examine its vaccine rollout after it was announced today that US pharma group Pfizer will reduce vaccine deliveries as it ramps up production.  

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MacCraith said today that Pfizer’s manufacturing plant in Belgium is currently scaling up from 1.3 billion doses per year to 2 billion doses which has lead to a pause due to “regulatory issues”. 

“We can’t make predictions about the actual scale backwards in terms of deliveries with confidence, as we’ve stated a number of times, on the number of vaccines that will be coming on a weekly basis from Pfizer,” he said.

“And as of this moment we don’t know what the implications are in that regard.”

MacCraith said the task force is currently working through “a number of scenarios” about how the delay may affect Ireland’s rollout. 

“We’ve always said from the very beginning of this that the implementation plan, the strategy had to be agile, we’re dealing with so many factors that are uncertain and again, we’re seeing potentially a production issue for one of the major vaccines.

“But it also highlights the fact that it’s so important to have a range of vaccine possibilities coming on stream. So we’ll wait and see. It’s just very difficult to predict the impact of this but we will adjust accordingly. We’ve planned for this sort of eventuality, we’ll adjust accordingly to change the rollout plan to accommodate this,” he said. 

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