2,000 healthcare workers innoculated in a week at Ballybrit

To date, 13,500 vaccines have been administered as the fight against Covid-19 continues

At the Vaccination Centre in Ballybrit, from left: Sinead O’Sullivan, TUSLA Family Support Services, Ballinasloe with Helen Harney, COVID-19 vaccinator and retired Clinical Nurse Specialist, Portiuncula University Hospital.

At the Vaccination Centre in Ballybrit, from left: Sinead O’Sullivan, TUSLA Family Support Services, Ballinasloe with Helen Harney, COVID-19 vaccinator and retired Clinical Nurse Specialist, Portiuncula University Hospital.

More than 2,000 Galway healthcare workers have been innoculated against Covid-19 in less than a week at the mass vaccination centre at Galway racecourse in Ballybrit.

Vaccinations began at the facility, one of 37 throughout the country, on Thursday and by Tuesday evening 2,200 employees had received the jab.

"We had been carrying out healthcare worker vaccinations on site in University Hospital Galway but we moved that centre to the racecourse on Thursday last," says Jean Kelly, who has operational responsibility for the Ballybrit facility.

Healthcare Vaccinations March 2021 I

At the Vaccination Centre in Ballybrit, from left: Molly Ryan, student podiatrist, Merlin Park University Hospital with Collette Daly, Staff Nurse at Portiuncula University Hospital and COVID-19 vaccinator.

"We will continue to administer first and second doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to healthcare staff, including hospital staff, community staff, and other healthcare workers."

The vaccination programme will continue in Ballybrit over the coming weeks and the team there will identify and resolve any minor issues that may arise before the mass vaccination of the general population begins later this month.

"Staff from Galway University Hospitals, Portiuncula University Hospital, and Community Healthcare West are carrying out the vaccinations at the centre and we are also in the process of recruiting additional staff, including vaccinators to ensure that we have the necessary teams in place to deliver the Covid-19 vaccination programme to the people of Galway. We are also very grateful for the support of members of the Defence Forces."

Frontline workers

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At the Vaccination Centre in Ballybrit, from left: Corporal Alan McCormack, Lieutenant Aidan Howley and Private Dermot Naughton.

Paul Hooton, the chief director of nursing and midwifery at the Saolta Group, which has overall responsibility for the vaccination programme in the west and north west, says most of the frontline healthcare workers in hospitals have received their first dose of the vaccine and many have received their second dose.

"There are many thousands of frontline healthcare workers working outside of hospitals and we are steadily working to provide them with the vaccine. It is important to bear in mind that the vaccination programme for healthcare workers includes workers from the public and private health services, those employed by the HSE, and those employed by funded agencies. It is expected that most if not all frontline healthcare workers now have received their first dose with second doses continuing into March."

Working 12 hours a day

Healthcare Vaccinations March 2021 II

COVID-19 vaccinators at the Vaccination Centre in Ballybrit, from left: Collette Daly, Staff Nurse Paediatrics, Portiuncula University Hospital (PUH ); Joe Fahy, Resuscitation Officer (PUH ); and Grainne Hogan, Clinical Nurse Manager 2 Theatre, PUH.

Breda Crehan Roche, the chief officer of Community Healthcare West says the vaccination programme across long-term residential care facilities, both public and private, is being completed currently.

"To date, we had administered 13,500 vaccines. I want to acknowledge the commitment of all the teams who worked so hard, often 12 hours a day, over seven days a week, to ensure that vulnerable older people are protected.

"Our vaccination teams are now also working alongside our colleagues in Galway University Hospitals to continue to provide vaccinations to healthcare workers. We will continue to work hard to deliver the vaccine to other priority groups. While the ongoing vaccination roll-out is really positive, Covid-19 continues to be transmitted in our community and we all need to stick to the public health guidelines."

'We will be flexible'

Healthcare Vaccinations March 2021 IV

At the Vaccination Centre in Ballybrit, from left: Ronan Smith, COVID-19 vaccinator; Tony Canavan, CEO, Saolta University Health Care Group; Jean Kelly, HSE Vaccination Centre Lead; and Paul Hooton, Chief Director of Nursing and Midwifery at the Saolta Group.

Tony Canavan, the CEO of the Saolta University Health Care Group, outlines that this will be the single largest vaccination programme ever undertaken in the State and will require huge co-operation across the health services and a range of state agencies.

"To date we have been somewhat limited by the availability of vaccine. We expect that to change over the coming weeks. We currently have access to three different vaccines and expect others to come on stream. We are also conscious of the needs of people living in more remote locations, including offshore islands and the more peripheral parts of our region, and I want to assure the community that we will be flexible to make sure that everyone can get this vaccine as quickly and as efficiently as possible."

The Saolta Group, which runs the local public hospitals, is developing vaccination centres which will be used to deliver the vaccination programme to the wider public.


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