By Sean Moriarty

The Health and Safety Executive cannot give an exact timeframe on the vaccine rollout in Direct Provision Centres. Last week, the Killarney Advertiser revealed that up 25 people at the Atlas House Direct Provision Centre on Park Road, were infected by COVID-19.

 

Currently the vaccination rollout follows a specific sequence, it has commenced with residents and staff in residential care settings for older people and frontline healthcare workers.

It then moves to community settings and will be rolled out on an age-related basis throughout the country, with the support of GPs and pharmacists.

However, there is no provision to include residents of Direct Provision Centres and asylum seekers the opportunity to be vaccinated despite living in high-risk environments.

Cllr Michael Gleeson wrote to the HSE seeking clarity on the matter. He said he was disappointed with the response.

“I am disappointed that no definite time schedule has been determined for these locations where large numbers live in close proximity and where the danger of disease transmission is very real. I would have thought that we would have learned from the nursing homes debacle,” Gleeson told the Killarney Advertiser.

There are three such Direct Provision Centres in Killarney, two on Park Road and one on New Road.

“Presently the HSE is involved in quite a significant logistical operation of rolling it out across residential settings, public and private and have commenced giving the second dose in these settings, by a mobile team of clinicians,” said a HSE statement seen by the Killarney Advertiser. “I know I haven’t been able to give you an exact timeframe [for DP centres], but you will appreciate in the above context that we are dependent on some national information to finalise our local plans.”

Since the HSE started vaccinating residential centres in the first week of January, they have vaccinated over 11,000 people in Cork and Kerry at well over one hundred centres.

“I am sure you will agree it is a testament to our local clinical staff who are normally employed in other areas and who willingly turn their attention to this task while we are experiencing a significant wave of COVID-19 positive cases across the community and in these centres, throughout this exercise,” added the HSE statement.