Around 1,400 healthcare staff are set to be vaccinated at Páirc Uí Chaoimh’s vaccination centre in the coming days, followed by the vaccination of people in high-risk groups next week.
The vaccination centre opens its doors this morning, with up to 700 healthcare workers to be vaccinated today and tomorrow.
The centre is part of a network of five vaccination centres across six locations in Cork.
The rollout of the vaccine at the centre will follow the Government’s provisional allocation groups, with healthcare workers being vaccinated this week and people in category four (those at a very high risk of Covid-19) being vaccinated from Tuesday.
Vaccination lead at Páirc Uí Chaoimh Aífe O’Connell, a clinical nurse manager (CNM2) on the paediatric ward at Mercy University Hospital (MUH), said there would be “a huge variety of healthcare workers” vaccinated over the next two days, but there would still be additional healthcare workers in Cork who needed a vaccine.
“There will be some days in the future where we will be running more clinics for them but, at the moment, it really is vaccine-dependent and once we have the vaccine we can give it to them,” she said.
It is expected that almost all frontline healthcare workers in Cork, both public and private, will be vaccinated by the end of the month.
Healthcare workers working the 12-hour shifts at the vaccination centre will include nurses, volunteers, medics and retirees.
As vaccine supply increases and the rollout moves through the vaccination groups identified by the Government, the centre at Páirc Uí Chaoimh will be used to vaccinate various groups.
The centre has 30 booths and a capacity to vaccinate up to 3,000 people a day. This capacity is not expected to be in use until later in the vaccination rollout and will depend on many factors, including vaccine supply.
“We’ll be starting with 10 to 15 booths and then we’ll be able to scale that up,” Ms O’Connell said. “Our maximum capacity would be 30 booths, one vaccination per booth and, as and when the vaccine is available, we’ll scale it up.”
Depending on vaccine supply and the numbers required to be vaccinated, the centre will have the capability to operate 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
Ms O’Connell confirmed that AstraZeneca will be the vaccine administered at the centre over the next two weeks and, after that, they will take whatever vaccine is in supply.
“We wouldn’t be running more than one vaccine brand in a day from a safety perspective, but it might mean we’ll run with one vaccine on one day and another vaccine on another day. When people are invited for their appointment, they’re given that information,” she said.
Speaking about vaccine storage at the centre, she said: “All vaccines need to be handled with care and precautions need to be in place, but each vaccine has storage and transfer policies that we need to follow.”
She said that staff are “excited” to see the centre open after all their hard work.
“It’s such a big team of people that have been involved in getting us to where we are right now. I think people just want to get the doors open and see the benefit of the hard work and the smiles on peoples’ faces we hope and hopefully it will run smoothly,” she said.
Cork Kerry Community Healthcare thanked the GAA for its support in relation to the centre, which will be made available for vaccinations for a minimum of six months, as is the case with all vaccination centres.
Meanwhile, the European Commission has said it will tighten the criteria for the export of vaccines to ensure the security of supply for European citizens.
Yesterday the commission said that shipments of vaccine doses outside the EU would depend on the percentage of the population vaccinated and the rate of Covid-19 cases in the recipient country.
Shipments would also depend on the degree to which the receiving country had permitted exports of vaccine doses and component parts to the EU.
The EU introduced a transparency mechanism at the end of January following concerns that AstraZeneca was shipping millions of doses to the UK that should have been used to fulfil EU contracts.
Officials said it had given a more accurate picture of what vaccines were going where within the EU.
EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said yesterday that we are facing “an exceptional situation and this is why we are here today and revising our export transparency mechanism”.