Green Party TD, Deputy Steven Matthews was speaking following the receipt of a letter from the HSE that confirmed a new vaccination centre is being sought to replace the previously announced venue in Arklow. Discussing the letter, Deputy Matthews said:
“I have been in regular contact with the HSE in recent weeks to try and get to the bottom of the delay in the opening of the vaccination centre in Arklow. The letter I received confirms that the hotel in Arklow that had been chosen as a vaccination centre will no longer be used and that an alternative venue is being sought that will fall in line with the pre-agreed and reasonable geographical spread across the county. The onus is on the HSE to find a new location, and quickly.
“At this juncture, I have no interest in pointing fingers or blaming anyone wither within the HSE or elsewhere for this situation. This issue needs to be resolved immediately and we can review and assess what happened at a later date once everyone has received their vaccinations and our society has reopened.
“The geographical spread that had been arranged, broadly speaking with people from North Wicklow set to attend Greystones and people from West and South Wicklow to attend Arklow, made sense and was the fairest option available given that many elderly people in particular got their vaccines from their local GP. The anecdotal evidence now is that any from the south and west of Wicklow are receiving appointments in Greystones and those from the north of the county are getting appointments in one of the centres in Dublin.
“I have written to Minister Donnelly and the HSE to ask that this is urgently addressed. It is unreasonable to ask people to travel such long distances, particularly from parts of Wicklowthat we know have a lack of public transport. What is more pressing is that as we continue to ramp up our vaccine rollout which has been broadly positive, we could seek bottle necks in terms of the vaccine rollout emerging for Wicklow if the HSE don’t urgently open a second centre in the county. I would expect that all other infrastructure had been put in place in terms of the required staff and other logistical issues, the sourcing and confirming a second centre for Wicklow needs to be prioritised.
“The mood on the street is definitely improving and there is a positive feeling about the loosening of restrictions and the speed of the vaccine rollout. We can’t allow a bureaucratic issue like the moving of a centre get in the way of this progress. I will continue to offer the HSE as much support as I can in this regard and I hope that this issue can be urgently addressed, concluded Deputy Matthews.