Sligo Health Care Worker vaccination programme now up and running at IT Sligo

Leitrim Observer Reporter

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Leitrim Observer Reporter

Health care staff across Sligo are being vaccinated this week in the newly established Vaccination Centre in Knocknarea Arena in Sligo IT.

Health care staff from Sligo University Hospital, Community staff in CHO 1 and staff from agencies funded by the HSE such as the North West Hospice are being provided with their Covid-19 vaccine at the IT from this week. The centre will continue with this vaccination programme over the coming weeks and the team there will identify and resolve any minor issues that may arise before the Centre will be used as a Vaccination Centre for the wider public.

Paul Hooton, Chief Director of Nursing and Midwifery at the Saolta Group which has overall responsibility for the vaccination programme across the west and north west said “At this point, most frontline healthcare workers in hospitals have received the vaccination (first dose) 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 health care 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 will have received their 1st dose by the end of February with second doses continuing into March”.

Commenting Marion Ryder, Director of Nursing at Sligo University Hospital who is one of the team leading out the vaccination programme in SUH said, “On Tuesday of this week, we moved our staff vaccination centre which had previously been located in Sligo University Hospital to the centre in the IT. We will continue to administer 1st and 2nd doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to health care staff including SUH staff, CHO 1 staff and other health care workers. As of this week, 73% of staff from Sligo University Hospital have had their Covid-19 vaccine and we hope to all have hospital staff vaccinated by the end of this month. Across the Saolta Group, we are in the process of developing vaccination centres which will ultimately be used to deliver the vaccination programme to the wider public. Staff from both Sligo University Hospital and CHO 1 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 Sligo”.

Cara O’ Neill, Head of Health and Wellbeing CHO 1 who is leading on the vaccination programme on behalf of HSE Community Services added, “The Residential Care Facility vaccination programme involved delivering nearly 10,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in 54 residential facilities for those aged 65 and over. Vaccination is nearly completed across the CHO 1 area, which includes  counties Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan.  This was a mammoth operation - involving 11 vaccination teams with nurses, doctors and administrative staff from the Community, Hospitals and National Ambulance Service. The teams operated over seven days a week and worked long days  to ensure  residents and staff were vaccinated. This is really positive for residents, their families and staff who have all endured a really difficult year”.

John Hayes, Chief Officer CHO 1 stated, "Across the CHO 1 area we will continue to work hard to deliver the vaccine to other priority groups. We are also conscious of the needs of people living in more remote locations including off shore 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".

Tony Canavan, CEO of the Saolta University Health Care Group added, “This will be the single largest vaccination programme ever undertaken in the Irish state and it will require huge co-operation across the health services, and across 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 3 different vaccines and expect others to come on stream. We continue to prepare for the task ahead and will remain as flexible as we can be in making sure that our ambition to roll out the vaccine as quickly as possible to all those who want it, is achieved”.