THE WESTERN Trust is preparing to “mainstream” its Covid vaccine service, with expectations high in the local health services that further booster jabs will be needed to tackle the virus.
That was the message from the January meeting of the Trust’s board, where director of HR Karen Hargen gave an update on the current phase of the vaccine roll out.
“Suffice to say, there has been enormous work and effort that has gone into accelerating the vaccination programme on foot of the Omicron variant,” she said.
“Our staff have contributed significantly to that, but I would also like to recognise the contribution from Council staff whose facilities have been made available to us at very short notice, and the work they have done with us in turning that programme around.”
Ms Hargen said it was “disappointing” to see there had been a drop off in demand for the vaccine in recent days and weeks, with bookings and walk-ins both dropping, but said a more targeted mobile clinic programme was now underway in local areas.
Turning to the future of the vaccine programme, Ms Hargen said she could see no end in sight to it any time soon.
“I think if Omicron and the other variants have taught us anything, it is that Covid is going to be with us for some time to come and therefore the vaccination programme is also going to be with us for some time to come,” she said.
“The Department of Health and the PHA are starting some work with trusts in relation to mainstreaming vaccination and thinking about what this programme is going to look like on a more sustainable basis.”
Ms Hargen said the Trust’s policy was based on the advice from the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation), and when asked if there would be a need for a second booster jab, she said again it would depend on JCVI advice.
“But I think there is a view that there will be a need for continued boosters, as Omicron stays with us,” she added.
“As the JCVI review the evidence and make their determinations we will expect that, but we don’t think we’re finished with vaccinations for the foreseeable future.”
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