Social Democrats TD for Wicklow Jennifer Whitmore has expressed shock in response to the HSE’s decision not to go ahead with the Arklow Bay Hotel Vaccination Centre after it was due to open this week. Deputy Whitmore raised the issue in the Dáil this week with Minister with State Frank Feighan. Speaking on the debate, Deputy Whitmore says…
“I was disappointed that the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly was not available to take my debate in the Dáil on the sudden and shock cancellation of the Arklow Bay Hotel Vaccination Centre. The centre was due to open this week to provide vaccinations and on the day it was due to open it was suddenly cancelled. One minute, the Minister is promoting this across national and local papers, and the next minute the centre is no more.
“What’s on the minds of everyone in Arklow and South Wicklow is how this happened after many weeks of preparation and no doubt a huge cost to the State and what’s Plan B for those due to be vaccinated?
“This delay is totally unacceptable and is adding to the anxiety many have just at a time when the public were hopeful of progress with the vaccine roll out and the easing of restrictions. An alternative must be put in place quickly to prevent any delays for Wicklow. Why there was no contingency plan in place is a question on everyone’s mind.
“Another question I had for the Minister is why HSE did not continue to carry out vaccines for the next three weeks until the contract ended so that at least an additional 10-12,000 people could’ve been vaccinated in that time? The staff were there ready to go, so why cancel so suddenly?
“The HSE have confirmed they are looking at alternative venues for South Wicklow but in the interim residents from south Wicklow will continue to get vaccination in Greystones, which is far from ideal. In particular, public transport must be provided to enable people to travel to Greystones for vaccination. I have spoken with Wexford Bus operators who would be happy to work with the HSE to facilitate this and I ask that the Minister engage urgently to make this happen.
“People in Wicklow have been so positive about getting their vaccine. We need to make it easier for them and they need clarity as to when and where they can get their jab. For that reason, I felt this warranted a formal discussion in the Dáil here today with the Minister for Health answerable to these questions. It’s important we learn from this so that it doesn’t happen again and ensure no additional delays arise in Wicklow in future” concludes Whitmore.