READY TO ROLL Signage on the way into the Breaffy Sports Arena which is now the Vaccination Centre for Mayo. Tony Canavan from Saolta has not ruled out the possibility of a satellite vaccination centre being opened somewhere else in Mayo. Pic: Conor McKeown
A senior HSE official in the west has committed to assessing the viability of establishing satellite vaccine centres, including one for north Mayo.
Tony Canavan, the CEO of the Saolta group of hospitals, which includes Mayo University Hosptal, gave the commitment at last week’s meeting of the Regional Health Forum West.
Responding to questions from Inishowen-based councillor Albert Doherty about the prospect of more centres for rural areas, Mr Canavan said the intention is to identify satellite centres in the coming weeks.
“The next step is to identify and develop sites outside those [main vaccination centres] to operate as satellites of those centres. The commitment I gave is we would look flexibly at the requirements of locations, such as the Inishowen peninsula but also west Donegal, west and north Mayo, west Galway and the islands and so on.
“The process of examining those satellite sites will open this week, bearing in mind we have just opened the last two of the five main centres in the west and northwest. When we meet the next time we hope to have a different answer for you, but our intention remains the same,” he said in reply to Cllr Doherty.
The rollout of the vaccine programme was the hot topic at the meeting, with members from across the region raising concerns.
Mr Canavan said he believes the vaccination programme is making good progress in the west, and that he hopes the vaccination rate will increase in April.
“The single limiting factor of the rollout of the vaccine is the availability of the vaccine itself, and we are hoping particularly over the months of April, May, June that the availability of the vaccine will increase quite significantly. Our aim is, when it does, we will be ready with vaccinators, centres and facilities and all required to roll out the vaccine as efficiently and as quickly as possible.”
He added: “To be fair about it, the limitations of the vaccination programme to date have largely been down to the unavailability of the vaccine … When that changes we want to be ready to be able to administer the vaccine quickly. To date we have administered every drop of vaccine which has been made available to us without delay and it is our ambition to keep doing that,” he said.
In response to a question from Castlebar-based councillor Michael Kilcoyne, Mr Canavan said that no one will get to choose which type of vaccine the get. He also said that he could not give a specific date as to when when elderly housebound people in Mayo will be vaccinated, but stated that the programme has commenced nationally.
Mr Canavan said the number of people vaccinated in the first days of the Breaffy vaccination centre’s opening had been relatively small. He explained that people in Category 4 who are due to be vaccinated will be identified for vaccination through their own consultant. He added that even if Mayo people are treated in a hospital outside the county they will still be offered the opportunity to be vaccinated in Breaffy.