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Taoiseach defends comments about people not turning up for booster appointments – Irish Examiner

People queue at the walk-in vaccination centre at the Cork City Hall last month. Picture” Dan Linehan
The Taoiseach has refused to walk back comments be made during the week that people were not showing up for booster vaccine appointments.
The issue had emerged in recent days and was even the subject of a testy discussion in the Dáil where the Taoiseach said large numbers of appointments were not being taken up.
The Tanaiste Leo Varadkar apologised for the issues earlier on Thursday, however, the Taoiseach did not walk back his comments.
“The core point I was making the Dáil during the week was the booster really enhances your protection, and it is the primary weapon we have and the people have in terms of protecting themselves against Covid,” Micheál Martin said. 
“My point at the time was to encourage people and that same sense of urgency.
“It didn’t mean it was people were postponing or delaying, but that it is important to get that message across.
“Now the HSE have acknowledged there has been systems issues, but in terms of getting a pharmacy appointment and so on, if you look at the totality of of pharmacies, 25,000 last week that was the highest ever weekly rate for pharmacies.
“A million have been now been vaccinated.
“Of course we don’t want any mix-up or any inconvenience for people, we want to make vaccines as accessible to people as we possibly can.
“I think that is I think there’s a clear sense of people coming forward with urgency now in terms of getting that booster.” 
On international travel, the Taoiseach says Ireland wants to align with European Union in respect of travel and The World Health Organisation DCDC I’m not advocating travel restrictions.
‘Queuing for hours’
The Government is sorry for the “inconvenience” faced by people who were queuing for hours at the walk-in vaccination centre at University College Dublin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said.
The rollout of booster vaccines for Covid-19 for those aged between 50 and 59 started today. 
This morning, the HSE had to warn people not to attend the walk-in booster clinic at UCD due to “very large queuing times.” 
Some 600 people have turned up to the walk-in clinic for the over 50s, but the centre only has the capacity to deal with 100 people per hour.
Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Varadkar explained there have been IT and teething problems that have impacted the rollout of the vaccination booster campaign.
“I just want to express my regrets and apologise on behalf of the Government and HSE for the inconvenience faced by people this morning who were queuing for their dose and weren’t able to get it,” Mr Varadkar said.
“In the round, the third dose programme is going very well, over a million people in Ireland have received their third dose. I think we’re very close to the top of the league table in the European Union in terms of third doses. We’re now in fourth place out of 27 countries, but I know that if you’re left standing in the cold waiting for a vaccine that they don’t get, that’s pretty cold comfort,” he said.
“There have been IT problems and teething problems, and we will get them right just like we got them right during the first period of the vaccine programme,” he said.
He was responding to Right To Change TD Joan Collins who asked why more pharmacies and local centres could not administer booster shots.
Prior to Thursday, boosters were only being offered to healthcare workers, people over the age of 60, those living in a nursing home or a long-term healthcare facility, and people aged 16 to 59 with an underlying condition.
The HSE said: “Walk-in vaccination clinics will be operating at Croke Park this afternoon in a limited capacity”
As of 9.30am, the Ireland East Hospital Group confirmed that the UCD clinic was “at capacity and cannot take any further people today”.
Queuing times of around an hour and a half were recorded in Limerick and in Ennis earlier this morning. 
Cork City Hall’s walk-in vaccination clinic will be offering only Moderna booster vaccines to those aged 50–69 from 11 am to 5 pm on Friday, 10th December. 
The HSE is updating queuing times for the centres via Twitter.

What to know about the booster:
The booster jab can be administered five months after the second vaccine dose.
If you had the single-dose Janssen vaccine, you need to wait at least 3 months.
People will not need to register for a booster dose. Those under the age of 70 will get a text message from the HSE with a vaccination centre appointment when your booster is due.
If you want to ask for a new appointment because you can’t attend the one offered, you can reply to the message with the word ‘NEW’.
If someone gets a text about a booster appointment and they have already received the jab, they can cancel it by replying to the text with the word ‘REJECT.’
People don’t need to confirm the appointment but people do have to bring photo ID that shows your date of birth.
If the booster is due now, you may also be able to get a vaccine at a pharmacy or a walk-in vaccination clinic.
People over the age of 30 will be offered the Moderna or the Pfizer/BioNTech jab.
If you are 29 or younger, you will be offered a single dose booster of the Pfizer vaccine.
Manufacturers have said that a third dose of the Pfizer jab is enough to combat the immediate threat of the Omicron variant.
The next cohorts to be offered a booster are people aged 16 and older who are pregnant, people aged 40 to 49 and people aged 16 to 39 – in stages with older age groups being called first.
The HSE has advised people that if they have had Covid since they were vaccinated, they should get their booster dose at least 6 months after the positive test result.
The various walk-in clinics are open at different times for different jabs. A full list can be found on HSE.ie
The health service has advised people not to go to a walk-in booster clinic if their age group is not being called at this time.
Healthcare workers will need to bring a photo ID and proof of employment.

Here is a list of what walk-in vaccination centres that are open on Thursday:
Kilmore Hotel, Cavan
60 to 69-year-olds: 8.30am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 5pm 
Healthcare workers over 30: 8.30am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 5pm.
Ennis
50-59-year-olds: 9am to 4pm
Croke Park 
60 to 69-year-olds: 10.30am to 12.00pm, 1.40pm to 4pm, and 5.20pm to 7pm 
Dose 1 and dose 2: 10.30am to 12.00pm, 1.40pm to 4pm, and 5.20pm to 7pm 
National Show Centre 
Over 50-year-olds: 1.40pm to 4pm Round 
Punchestown Racecourse 
60 to 69-year-olds: 4pm to 7pm
Cillin Hill Conference Centre 
Healthcare workers: 1.40pm to 4pm 
St Fintans Campus 
60 to 69-year-olds: 9am to 11am 
Scoil Carmel, Limerick 
50 to 59-year-olds: 9am to 11am
Clonguish GAA Centre 
Over 50-year-olds: 9.15am to 3pm 
Healthcare workers: 9.15am to 3pm 
Dose 1 and dose 2 walk-in clinics: 9.15am to 3pm 
Breaffy House Resort 
60 to 69-year-olds: 6pm to 8pm 
Healthcare workers: 6pm to 8pm 
Dose 1 and dose 2 walk-in clinics: 6pm to 8pm
Fairyhouse Racecourse 
60 to 69-year-olds: 5pm to 7pm 
Glencarn Hotel 
Healthcare workers over 30 only: 1.30pm to 5.30pm 
Mucklagh Community Centre 
60 to 69-year-olds: 9.15am to 5pm 
Over 50-year-olds: 10am to 3pm
Sligo Racecourse 
60 to 69-year-olds: 4.30pm to 7.30pm 
Healthcare workers: 4pm to 7.30pm 
Abbeycourt Hotel 
50 to 59-year-olds: 3.30pm to 7pm 
Clonmel Park Hotel 
50 to 59-year-olds: 1.15pm to 4pm 
Moate Youth and Community Sports Centre 
50 to 59-year-olds: 4pm to 6pm

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Thursday, December 9, 2021 – 12:00 PM
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