Kerry’s biggest vaccine hub has closed for a week, due to a shortage of vaccines.
Staff at the Kerry Sports Academy at the Munster Technological University (MTU) in Tralee were informed of the shutdown on Friday.
Last week, GPs in Killarney, tasked with rolling out vaccines to the over-70s, were told they would not be getting their allocations.
However, the Killarney vaccine hub will roll into action for the first time this week for the cohort 4 age group, the HSE said, in response to the shutdown of the Tralee centre.
The 2,000-capacity Tralee centre was commissioned at the end of March for the cohort 4 category of people between 16 and 69 at very high risk from Covid-19.
It had already been used for the vaccinations of some frontline healthcare workers.
The Tralee centre has 25 booths and a maximum capacity to vaccinate up to 2,000 people a day and operate seven days a week.
The maximum capacity depended on vaccine supply and will not be reached until later in the rollout, health authorities had said.
Kerry has two centres. The county’s second, and smaller vaccine centre, in a sports arena in Killarney, is to roll into action this week for cohort 4 category in that region – people between 16 and 69 at very high risk from Covid-19 – the HSE said.
The vaccination centres were established as a joint project between the South/South West Hospital Group and Cork Kerry Community Healthcare.
GP practices last week in Killarney found they were being left without Covid-19 vaccines for their over-70s age group who were scheduled to come to surgeries.
The GPs were told last Wednesday their expected delivery this week – mainly of the Pfizer vaccine – would not take place.
The cancellation notice to doctors in Kerry, Cork arrived from the HSE without explanation or warning, Killarney GP Gary Stack said.
The HSE said “regrettably, vaccine allocation remains limited by supply”.
This was due to “higher numbers in the age group and limited volumes available for allocation,” it said.
The HSE said on Monday that vaccinations would return to Tralee’s MTU next week and all available vaccines had been utilised fully.
Supply will increase over the coming weeks, the HSE anticipates, and both centres will operate for age-related cohorts, it said.