Department of Health must demonstrate greater oversight of vaccination programmes

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Department of Health must demonstrate greater oversight of vaccination programmes

Ulster Unionist Health Spokesperson Alan Chambers MLA has called on the Department of Health to pay closer attention to the oversight and delivery of the upcoming autumn flu and Covid-19 vaccination programmes.

His comments came after the PHA decided to bring forward the start date of this year’s vaccination programmes, but clumsily failed to inform GPs.

Alan Chambers said:

“The importance of the autumn flu and Covid vaccinations have been demonstrated clearly over recent years. Many thousands of people have been given the greater protection the vaccines afford, and crucially it has also protected critical hospital capacity, so that hospital and staff resources could be better deployed supporting other very unwell patients.

“One of the most important and fundamental aspects of vaccination programmes is the necessity to retain strong public support in them. I’ve no doubt that the Department of Health also recognise that and therefore it makes it all the more surprising that there was such a critical and public breakdown in communications between the Public Health Agency and the very people they are expecting to deliver the programme.

“Following the identification of a new Covid variant it’s understandable that the PHA have decided to take the precautionary measure of bringing the programmes forward, but in their rush to do so they made the foolish and entirely avoidable mistake of failing to tell GPs. It’s simply not acceptable that GPs, who are such a key component of the programme, only found out about the change in dates through a post on social media.

“During the initial mass population Covid-19 vaccination, the programme was carefully delivered with the skilful oversight of individuals such as Patricia Donnelly. The recent basic and damaging blunder from the PHA perhaps shows the Department of Health really needs to take a greater interest in the oversight of the next programme.”