The Saolta University Health Care Group has released a comprehensive report detailing the rollout of the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme across the West and Northwest regions of Ireland. The 80-page report provides an in-depth account of the challenges, achievements, and progress made throughout the program, including the establishment of vaccination centers and satellite centers, ensuring a consistent vaccine supply, and adapting to changes in demand.
The vaccination program began on December 29, 2020, with priority given to healthcare workers and the elderly population in long-term care facilities. To facilitate the vaccination campaign in the West and Northwest, an integrated Steering Group was quickly assembled, comprising representatives from Saolta, Community Healthcare West, Community Healthcare Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan, Sligo, HSE Emergency Planning, HSE Estates, Public Health, and the National Ambulance Service.
Over 650 staff members were involved in the program at its peak, ensuring the administration of COVID-19 vaccines to individuals aged 5 and above in various settings, including vaccination centers, homes for the housebound, residential care facilities, prisons, acute and community settings, and third-level institutions. Collaboration with partner healthcare organizations, voluntary agencies, and other entities was crucial to the success of the program.
In May 2022, responsibility for the regional vaccination program was transferred from Saolta to HSE Community Healthcare organizations. By this point, the Saolta-governed program had administered a total of 750,000 vaccinations, with the majority (703,000) delivered in the vaccination centers. The dedicated staff worked tirelessly to provide a safe and high-quality service.
Tony Canavan, CEO of the Saolta Group, expressed pride in the accomplishments of the vaccination program and emphasized the importance of staying up to date with vaccines to protect against future outbreaks. The success of the program has allowed life to return to normal, but Canavan urged against complacency.
The report also highlighted the extraordinary efforts of the staff, as well as the public’s cooperation in ensuring a high vaccination rate. Paul Hooton, Chief Director of Nursing and Midwifery and Vaccination Programme Lead for the Saolta Group, commended the program’s contributions to Ireland’s vaccination rate and acknowledged the significant impact of COVID-19 on people from all walks of life.
Dr. Áine McNamara, Area Director of Public Health HSE West and North West, underscored the importance of vaccination in preventing illness and protecting vulnerable individuals within communities. She urged the public to receive their winter booster vaccines for both flu and COVID-19.
The report was officially launched by Cllr Donagh Killilea, Chairman of the Regional Health Forum, who praised its detailed account of the program’s challenges and successes. John Fitzmaurice, Chief Officer of Community Healthcare West, emphasized the need to learn from the report’s findings to maintain the success of the vaccination program.
This report serves as a valuable resource documenting the achievements and experiences of the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme in the West and Northwest regions of Ireland, showcasing the effectiveness of large-scale vaccination efforts and the collaboration of various stakeholders.
– Saolta University Health Care Group