March 2nd 2021

Healthcare staff across Galway are now being vaccinated in the newly established Vaccination Centre in the racecourse in Ballybrit. Healthcare staff from Galway University Hospitals, Community Healthcare West and staff from agencies funded by the HSE are now being provided with their COVID-19 vaccine at the racecourse. The Centre at Ballybrit will continue with this vaccination programme over the coming weeks and the team there will identify and resolve any minor issues that may arise before the Centre will be used as a Vaccination Centre for the wider public.

Paul Hooton, Chief Director of Nursing and Midwifery at the Saolta Group which has overall responsibility for the vaccination programme across the West and North West said,

At this point, most frontline healthcare workers in hospitals have received the vaccination (first dose) and many have received their second dose. There are many thousands of frontline healthcare workers working outside of hospitals and we are steadily working to provide them with the vaccine. It is important to bear in mind that the vaccination programme for healthcare workers includes workers from the public and private health services, those employed by the HSE and those employed by funded agencies. It is expected that most if not all frontline healthcare workers now have received their first dose with second doses continuing into March.

Commenting Jean Kelly, who has operational responsibility for the Vaccination Centre at Ballybrit said,

We began vaccinating here in the racecourse last Thursday and by this evening we expect to have vaccinated 2,200 healthcare staff. We had been carrying out healthcare worker vaccinations on site in University Hospital Galway but we moved that centre to the racecourse on Thursday last. We will continue to administer first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to healthcare staff including hospital staff, community staff and other healthcare workers. As of this week, across the Saolta Group, we are in the process of developing Vaccination Centres which will ultimately be used to deliver the vaccination programme to the wider public. Staff from Galway University Hospitals, Portiuncula University Hospital and Community Healthcare West are carrying out the vaccinations at the Centre and we are also in the process of recruiting additional staff, including vaccinators to ensure that we have the necessary teams in place to deliver the COVID-19 vaccination programme to the people of Galway. We are also very grateful for the support of members of the Defence Forces.

Breda Crehan Roche, Chief Officer Community Healthcare West added,

At this stage we are completing the vaccination programme across long-term residential care facilities, both public and private, and to date we had administered 13,500 vaccines. I want to acknowledge the commitment of all the teams who worked so hard often 12 hours a day, over seven days a week, to ensure that vulnerable older people are protected. Our vaccination teams are now also working alongside our colleagues in Galway University Hospitals to continue to provide vaccinations to healthcare workers. We will continue to work hard to deliver the vaccine to other priority groups. While the ongoing vaccination roll-out is really positive, COVID-19 continues to be transmitted in our community and we all need to stick to the public health guidelines.

Tony Canavan, CEO of the Saolta University Health Care Group added,

This will be the single largest vaccination programme ever undertaken in the Irish State and it will require huge co-operation across the health services, and across a range of state agencies. To date we have been somewhat limited by the availability of vaccine. We expect that to change over the coming weeks. We currently have access to three different vaccines and expect others to come on stream. We are also conscious of the needs of people living in more remote locations including offshore islands and the more peripheral parts of our region and I want to assure the community that we will be flexible to make sure that everyone can get this vaccine as quickly and as efficiently as possible.

Video link: Jean Kelly, HSE Vaccination Centre Lead; Marie Burns, Director of Nursing at Galway University Hospitals and Breda Crehan Roche, Chief Officer, Community Healthcare West on the vaccination programme for healthcare staff at Ballybrit Racecourse Galway.