Permanent vaccination centres to administer yearly Covid vaccines will be considered by the Government.
The idea is being explored in the event that yearly boosters will be needed, with sources saying that the current facilities will revert to their original uses and that permanent buildings will have to be found.
Sources said that the work will take some time, but that a proposal could be made in the coming months, which could see current testing centres used as large-scale vaccination centres. Sources said that the centres could be used for other vaccine programmes, as well.
“We’re constantly reviewing the need for vaccine requirements,” said a source. “Last year’s programme needed to be scaled up at speed, but at a certain stage Cork City Hall has to go back to being Cork City Hall.”
Sources said that the idea would be discussed in depth when the booster programme ends, and that staffing remains a key issue. Last summer a large number of vaccinators left the programme in the gap between Ireland reaching high levels of second doses and the commencement of the booster campaign. Ensuring that there is year-round work for what will likely be a seasonal vaccine is considered a key challenge.
The HSE said that it is examining the plan “from a strategic perspective” with consideration being given to a number of factors.
Speaking on Morning Ireland, Paul Reid, CEO, HSE said: “We are looking from a strategic perspective [..] we have to look at it from a workforce perspective and an infrastructure perspective and certainly we have a really good primary care resourcing through the great work from GPs and indeed pharmacies in terms of vaccine administration.
“But we will equally have to look at what infrastructure we have in place because a lot of the infrastructure we put in place right now for our vaccination are sporting grounds in some cases. In some cases hotels, or third-level colleges facilities.”
He added: “There’s a cost, but I mean the costs related to this is a public health issue. We really have to protect people. We are now equally looking at what’s the kind of perm