Doctor allays fears about long journeys for Covid-19 vaccinations in Donegal

Politicians have criticised the decision to locate just one large vacation centre in Donegal

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Dr Denis McCauley said everyone in Donegal will be able to get the Covid-19 vaccine locally

A Donegal GP has moved to allay concerns about the distances people will have to travel in Donegal to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

Politicians in different parts of the county have criticised the decision to locate just one large vacation centre in Donegal.

They have raised concern that residents in some parts of the country will face journeys of well over an hour from areas that have inadequate public transport.

The Government announced on Monday that Letterkenny Institute of Technology will be one of 37 large centres in the country. It is the only one in Donegal but the HSE has said other “satellite sites” in the county are under review.

The vaccination of people over 85 began at GP practices in Donegal and across the country this week. 

Dr Denis McCauley, who is chair of the GP Committee of the Irish Medical Organisation, said he doesn't believe people in Donegal will have to travel to receive the vaccine and everyone in the county will be able to get it locally.

“At the present minute over 70s are being done exclusively by general practitioners. Under 70s will be done when the vaccine is available, the [availability of the] vaccine is a rate-limiting issue,” he said.

Infrastructure 

“The infrastructure that will be available to give the vaccines when they come on board will be general practitioners, some pharmacists, some dentists and the vaccination centre that is designated for Letterkenny. 

“All that infrastructure will be available when vaccines become available. I think that nobody will have to travel anywhere. I think the infrastructure will never be overwhelmed by the amount of vaccine that is there. 

“So the important thing to realise is that the infrastructure is there. I think that someone from Glencolmcille or Buncrana will be able to get their vaccine locally. They will not have to travel to the mass vaccination centre. That is the plan; the plan still has to be formulated but it will all be dictated by [the supply] of the vaccine.”

 Dr McCauley said the vaccination centre will be used when the vaccine is available for the groups outside the over 70s. 

He said patients will be given the choice of where they can receive the vaccine.

Individual GP practices will be receiving a supply of the vaccine every two weeks, he said.

'Delighted'

Dr McCauley said feedback from practices that have been vaccinating patients this week is that they are delighted to be able to give it.

“The patients are so happy to get it. The days that they are giving it are overwhelmingly happy days. The GPs are ringing us and saying it is the best day they have ever had in practice in years. And the over 85s are coming in singing and it is great. It’s a positive situation. As long as they  keep supplying the vaccine, we will keep giving them.”

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