Laois-Offaly TD Barry Cowen has called for the vaccination of teachers and school staff to be ‘fast-tracked’.
In a letter to Taoiseach Micheal Martin, Mr Cowen said that since the news of school closures had been made public, he had received a number of calls on this matter.
The Fianna Fail TD said: “I’ve had many calls from parents, students, teachers SNAs and other relevant staff.
“They have expressed fear and worry for their own and their family’s health because of the new variant of the disease.
“Many have suggested if the possibility could be explored to fast-track the vaccination of such staff and a commitment be given on those lines.”
Under the government’s vaccine roll-out plan, teachers would come in on Phase 6 of the 15 Phases.
Meanwhile, Laois TD Brian Stanley says that a ‘major mobilisation needed to get vaccine rolled out in Midlands’.
The Sinn Fein TD said: “It is vital that the vaccine roll out is properly resourced, and that GPs, School Vaccination Teams and Pharmacists are also centrally involved in the rollout as soon as higher numbers of doses arrive.
“It is vital that we have full transparency and detail on staffing and infrastructure. How many staff will be needed? How many are currently in place and when it is envisaged to establish mass vaccination centres?
“The lack of a timeline and the absence of details on staff and infrastructure is of great concern.
“We are told that the vaccine will be delivered in mass vaccination centres and this is something Sinn Féin called for. Have centres been secured in Laois/Offaly for this?
“We have learned from an internal HSE report that there are severe staffing and resource shortages in public health. Other qualified individuals will need to be redeployed to the vaccination programme, and more will need to be trained.
“While the supply of vaccines is outside of our control, it is important we have regular reporting of dose arrivals as well as administration. As more vaccines get regulatory approval, we may need capacity to administer 100,000 doses or more a week.
“We cannot underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead of us. It will be the largest vaccination programme in the history of this state.
“Ground was lost in health care in 2020 which will take years to get back. Covid related hospitalisations are rising and this will stretch hospitals to capacity, and again delay the delivery of non-Covid related Health Care.
“The bottom line is there can be no room for underinvestment, lack of preparation or undue delay in this vaccine rollout.”