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'Nothing was run by us before list was published': Some official vaccination centres claim deals haven't been finalised

The minister released a list of 37 locations for vaccination centres yesterday.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

A NUMBER OF venues confirmed by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly as locations for mass vaccination centres have said they have not yet finalised deals with the health service.

Yesterday, the minister released a list of 37 vaccination centre locations which will be used as part of the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

The venues include sports venues, college campuses and hotels, and a government spokesperson indicated this evening that there will likely be 40 centres in total when the list is finalised.

The list released on Monday stated that contracts for just two of the venues – Longford Slashers GAA and Faithful Field GAA Centre – were to be finalised.

However, a number of venues said today that the use of their premises has not been confirmed and they were surprised at the minister’s announcement.

On its Facebook page the Seven Oaks Hotel in Carlow said the use of the hotel had not been confirmed by the HSE.

“The HSE did enquire with us last month but nothing has been confirmed at this stage,” the hotel said.

A spokesperson for the minister told TheJournal.ie that the list is subject to change as the roll-out progresses and other locations are identified.

He said the hotel in Carlow had been identified as a possible location but in recent days, due to a change in specifications, it was deemed too small. Additional site visits in Carlow are taking place today to identify an alternative site.

General manager of the hotel Michael Walsh told TheJournal.ie that he was still awaiting final confirmation from the HSE, but he had been told the venue may be too small. 

He said the use of the hotel as a vaccination centre “would have given us a boost, but we’re not dependent on it”.

In Wicklow, the owners of the Charlesland Golf Club in Greystones were also caught off guard.

Gabriel Dooley, the estate agent who has been managing the plans for this venue, told TheJournal.ie that “nothing was run by the owners or us before they published the list”.

He said that while planning for the vaccination centre is at an advanced stage and discussions with suppliers are ongoing, “the deal hasn’t been finalised”.

The Bloomfield House Hotel in Westmeath also said full confirmation has not been received.

At some of the other locations, management was not surprised by the list and in the case of the Midlands Park Hotel in Laois it is already being used for GP vaccinations.

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“We’ve been in regular contact with the HSE and we’re delighted to play our part in the fight against Covid-19,” general manager Dara Cruise said

Breaffy House Resort in Mayo also confirmed to prospective guests that it will be used as a vaccination centre, stating that it would not impact on reservations.

In a statement today the HSE said the list is subject to change and these centres will come on stream as needed, with a dedicated workforce from late March or early April.

“All centres will be ready in advance of the need to match vaccine supply which, based on current information, is forecast to reach a peak in Quarter 2,” it said. The HSE said criteria for selection included ease of access, transport links and parking.

“At the moment, people do not need to register for vaccination in advance – when we move forward to begin vaccinating the next priority groups, the HSE will use news, public notices, advertising, social media, partner organisations to alert people that it’s their turn to come forward.

“For those who do not have a GP, the HSE can support people through our phone line. More information on this process will be announced by the HSE very shortly, and we will be engaging with partner organisations, to keep them informed, and to ask for their support as relevant.”

According to the government’s Covid-19 Vaccination Implementation Plan GP surgeries and pharmacies will also be used in the mass ramp-up of the vaccination programme.

- With reporting by Stephen McDermott and Cónal Thomas.

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