Additional appointments have been made available at the Royal Victoria Hospital’s Covid-19 vaccination centre after the roll-out of the vaccine to those over the age of 65 saw demand surge and local residents being offered appointments at centres in Dundonald, Ballymena and as far away as Enniskillen.
However, West Belfast MLA Pat Sheehan, who also sits on Stormont’s Health Committee, questioned the level of planning that was put in to the roll-out.
“I am pleased to hear that the Belfast Trust have made more slots available for these vaccines and I hope that everyone who is entitled to one will get it but there have been glitches in the system and I am wondering just how much planning has gone into it before the process was set in motion,” said the Sinn Féin man.
He also called for greater certainty around the roll-out saying: “The vaccines are obviously very important and people are anxious to get them as soon as possible but the Department of Health, the Health and Social Care Board and the Belfast Trust need to make sure that people aren’t given false hope and expectation only for that to be dashed. Whatever plans have been made need certainty around them as uncertainty is the thing that is causing the greatest concern to people.”
A telephone booking line for vaccination appointments has now also been introduced for those unable to use the online system. In line with the Department of Health’s twin track approach to accelerate vaccinations, both the online system and telephone booking line can be used by those in the 65-69 age group to make an appointment at one of the seven regional vaccination centres.
People are asked to reserve capacity on the telephone booking line (0300 200 7813) for those who cannot avail of the online booking facility.