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Doctor slams vaccine debacle

A MOUNTSHANNON resident has claimed the Covid-19 vaccination system for people who are in quarantine is a “shambles”.
Dr Joe Griffin (68) was relieved when he received his vaccination appointment recently, having waited so long.
After returning from England where he was attending his wife’s mother’s funeral, he was in quarantine at home and was unable to attend.
On the Department of the Taoiseach website, it states that he can only leave his home in certain circumstances including medical reasons and he wondered if getting vaccinated was a valid reason for travel.
In a statement issued to the Clare Champion, he recalled telephoning a telephone number he received in a text message and waited over 20 minutes in various queues just to speak to a person. After explaining his dilemma, he was put on hold because the person he was speaking with did not know whether or not he should attend for his vaccination. After further delays, he was eventually transferred to a supervisor who told him not to attend but to cancel his appointment.
On the day of his cancelled appointment, he received another text reminding him that he should attend the vaccination clinic.
He phoned the HSE again and following the usual delay, he was told there was no information about his situation on their system.
Nothing was provided about being in mandatory 14-day quarantine, nothing about his appointment having been cancelled or nothing about a new appointment. Once again, he was told to cancel his appointment.
On Friday, April 23, he received yet another text with a vaccine appointment, this time for Sunday. Yet again, he phoned the HSE about his quarantine situation. He was told to ignore this text and that the latest appointment would be cancelled.
On Saturday, April 24, he received another vaccination appointment this time for Tuesday, April 27. This was the fourth appointment but as it was scheduled for the seventh day of his fourteen day quarantine period, he couldn’t attend.
He was unable to get through to HSE cancel this latest appointment because phone lines were so busy.
Acknowledging Covid-19 has caused difficulties, he believes correct information should be provided to people and systems should be properly implemented so that up to date and correct information is stored and processed by the HSE.
He also wonders what has happened to the vaccine that was allocated for him. Has it gone to waste because of his ‘no show’ when somebody else could have taken his place.
He believes it is about time someone got to grips with the situation, which has left him feeling extremely troubled and depressed by this situation.
The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly hadn’t answered his emails before he had contacted the newspaper.
“To my mind, the situation is a shambles,” Dr Griffin said. “It’s taking up lots of people’s time for no good reason and it’s all avoidable. It could be addressed easily if there was a system to inform the HSE that someone is quarantining and not supposed to leave the house. What I would like to see is a link in the text that you’re sent with your appointment,” said Dr Griffin.
“That would give the opportunity to people like me, who cannot attend for a certain period, to say that and to ask not to be given appointments on particular dates.”
“I lodged a complaint on the HSE’s website and got a call back,” he outlined. “I was transferred to someone who deals with vaccination and they said I would continue to receive notification of appointments I can’t attend.”
“I’ve emailed Health Minister Stephen Donnelly three times,” he said. “In the last one, I expressed annoyance I hadn’t even received an acknowledgement. Since then, I have received one email from the minister’s office to acknowledge my messages.”
Dr Griffin also questioned why Clare residents are receiving appointments for the Limerick vaccination centre, rather than the one in Ennis.
The Mid-West HSE had not responded to Clare Champion queries at the time of going to press.

By Dan Danaher

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