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Health Minister Stephen Donnelly overlooks a vaccination centre. Sam Boal

Vets, dental hygienists and healthcare students could be trained up to give vaccine jabs

More vaccinators will need to be recruited to as we head into the summer months, Cabinet was told today.

VETS, RADIOGRAPHERS, DENTAL hygienists, and healthcare students could be trained up to administer the Covid-19 vaccine. 

In an update to Cabinet today on the vaccine rollout today, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said up to 800 vaccinators are needed for April and May to staff the vaccine centres. 

As we move into the summer, more will have to be recruited, ministers were told.

The health service estimates it will need between 2,500 and 5,000 vaccinators to operate seven days a week across 38 national vaccination centres.

Through its recent recruitment drive, the HSE has so far hired almost 1,100 people to work in these centres, with many already in place.

HSE CEO Paul Reid said last week said a further 700 are going through final clearance and another 1,700 are still going through the process but have been deemed suitable for the roles.

In total this could bring the staffing level through this recruitment campaign alone to 3,700 vaccinators, with a mix of both full-time and part-time staff.

This would be in addition to the HSE staff who have already been deployed to the centres. 

The majority of vaccination centres will operate seven days a week. 

Cabinet was told today that the Department of Health has this week been asked to consider training disciplines such as radiographers, dental hygienists, vets and healthcare students to administer the vaccine. 

The Cabinet was also told the rollout will require increases in admin and support staff, and a framework has been agreed to facilitate this by Local Authorities and regional Government Departments.

Donnelly said that a pilot involving 15 community pharmacies will also be launched by the end of this month, to test operational arrangements ahead of pharmacists being used in the rollout of the vaccine.

As the age cohorts are moved through, and with an anticipation of vaccinating greater numbers in the summer months, the Department of Transport are also analysing public bus routes to vaccination centres to assess if a higher level of service is required, given existing restrictions on capacity.

Ministers also discussed the adjustment to the vaccine rollout following NIAC advice on AstraZeneca, the pause in Johnson & Johnson rollout, and the additional supplies from Pfizer.

Cabinet were also informed about the additional functionality that will be added to the ICT system as the rollout ramps up and as new vaccines are approved.

Ministers also discussed the possibillity of ‘green certs’, and were told the HSE and the Office of the Government’s Chief Information Officer has developed an IT system that can provide a medical record of vaccines received, which will also contain the batch number of the vaccines received.

The Covid-19 Senior Officials Group is also looking at the issue of the use of vaccine certs domestically and as part of the EC Digital Green Certificate system.

On 28 April, the European Parliament is to vote on whether to introduce Digital Green Certificates to allow for travel around the EU.

It is understood that vaccine passports or ‘green certs’ are under consideration at government level when it comes to reopening hospitality.

However, sources were quick to point out that it could be the case of there being multiple options available – such as someone having a vaccination cert, or someone having to present a negative antigen test – for people that are not vaccinated.

While it is very early days in terms of international travel, it is understood that the government is in favour of countries offering a lot of flexibility, such as an option of presenting a vaccination cert plus a negative antigen test, or just vaccination proof, or an antigen test on its own.

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