THE UL Hospital’s Group which is operating Limerick’s only vaccination centre, apologised today, after a Limerick man hit out at the organising of the county’s COVID-19 vaccination programme because he given a vaccine appointment in Dublin and told “there is no vaccine available in Limerick”.
In an interview with the Limerick Today current affairs programme on local radio station Live 95, the man said: “I registered online for my COVID vaccine and I got a text back to advise me that I would be having my appointment the following day at 11.50am in Dublin, however, I live in West Limerick.
The man rang the HSE’s helpline to try to sort an appointment in Limerick but said he was told “there is no vaccine available in Limerick”.
“I just couldn’t believe it. He was very apologetic, a lovely man, but he said, yes, that’s a fact, that’s the way it is.”
Limerick has the highest incidence of COVID-19 nationally and has seen over a thousand cases in the past 14 days.
Latest figures showed that Public Health officials had identified 129 COVID-19 cases in Limerick over a 48-hour period between last Wednesday and Thursday, however this included a significant drop from 85 on Wednesday to 44 on Thursday.
However, the possibility of a local lockdown still looms, should Limerick experience another sharp rise in cases, informed sources said.
It’s understood the radio station caller was later offered an appointment at the Limerick vaccination centre, however it emerged on Friday that the centre, which opened at Limerick Racecourse last Tuesday, would close for five days over June and July to facilitate horse racing meetings.
Former Secretary General at the Department of Finance, John Moran, tweeted his dismay at the news: “This is unbelievable! Who planned this and gave a contract with days out on a matter of life and death.”
“Now I know why all of us who were vaccinated exactly 27 days ago have not received invitations to a second dose for the 28 day recommended date.”
In response to a query about the man’s experience, a spokesman for the UL Hospital Group, which is managing the Limerick vaccination centre, said: “During the past week, we have been aware of a number of instances in which SMS text message appointment confirmations have directed people to centres other than those closest to their homes.
“We have been working to identify and contact the people who have been affected in our tri-country catchment area in the Mid-West, to assist them with arranging appointments in their local centres.”
“Meanwhile, we urge anyone who has a query arising from vaccination appointment text messages to contact the national helpline number on 1850-241850.”
“We would like to reassure people in the Mid-West that anyone from this region will be accommodated at our centres. We apologise to anyone who has been inconvenienced by such text messages in recent days.”
Limerick Fine Gael TD, Kieran O’Donnell said he wrote to the Minister for Health Friday seeking an alternative plan to rollout vaccine in Limerick on the days the vaccination centre at the racecourse was closed.