Preparation... Kevin Feely, Hickeys.

Pharmacies ready to begin vaccinations while HSE advises people only to attend Simonstown at 'allotted time'

The HSE has urged the public to only arrive at the vaccination centre in Simonstown at their appointed times, in a bid to deal with lengthy queues that occurred there over the past week.

There were reports of extremely lengthy queues and waits of up the three and a half hours at Simonstown last week and over the weekend.

Meanwhile the Fairyhouse Community Vaccination Centre opened last Thursday and is expecting to ramp up vaccinations over the coming weeks.

Local pharmacies also began vaccinating the over 50s who haven't already been vaccinated this week.

A spokesperson for the HSE said that people should go to Simonstown only at their appointed times.

“The centre remains very busy, and we are doing everything possible to accommodate everyone. However, given the volume of people arriving at the centre, it is inevitable that there will be queues.

“Members of the public are being offered the option of rescheduling rather than queueing. Our priority is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly and safely as possible. Therefore, it is important that people only attend at their allotted times.

“We would like to thank the public for their patience and understanding as we deal with the huge numbers of people availing of a vaccine,” he said.

The Meath Chronicle received reports of queues and delays of over three hours at Simonstown over the past week.

One Ratoath woman reported that she was vaccinated in Mullingar and her husband in Navan.

“Overall it took the same amount of time to go to Mullingar and back as it did to go to Navan and back. I was 25 minutes in the Mullingar centre getting mine and my husband was an hour and 55 minutes in the Navan centre getting his. It was not the staff's fault in Navan - it was due to people arriving early for their appointment.”

Another spoke of the lengthy queues.

“Last Monday my appointment was 6pm. I arrived at 5.45 and I got home at 8.45….on the plus side I’ve got my first vaccine now and the staff couldn’t have been nicer.”

Another spoke of the queue on three sides of the pitch with two rows of queues in the tent.

“A friend said it was like that from 8.30am. I was there at 11.55. The queue was two and half hours long.”

Meanwhile the vaccination centre at Fairyhouse had reduced hours when it opened last Thursday in order to familiarise staff.

On Thursday and Friday people received second dose vaccines and this week it is operating eight hours from Monday to Friday.

Meanwhile, local pharmacies joined in the vaccination effort this week.

Kevin Feeley of Hickey's Pharmacy of Trimgate Street, Navan said he had vaccinated five people on Monday.

“We are limited in what we can do as we also have to run the pharmacy as normal. We were vaccinating people over 50 who haven't already been vaccinated and there seems to be a demand.

“At the moment we are only administering the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

“We are likely to be administering Pfizer by the end of the month and maybe to a different cohort,” he said.

Joe Staunton of Staunton's Pharmacy in Navan will start vaccinating this Thursday.

“The vaccine hasn't been delivered yet, but we expect it to arrive for Thursday.

“People have to book because we have to administer five vaccines in the space of three hours they come in vials of five.

“We are getting a lot of phonecalls and queries, so there seems there will be a good uptake.”

Meanwhile the Boots pharmacy chain said vaccines will be available in its 81 pharmacies nationwide from this week which includes branches in Navan and Ashbourne.