Large queues at walk-in vaccination centres around the country this weekend were down to “unprecedented demand” for booster doses, according to the HSE.
Thousands of people made their way to vaccine centres this weekend amid mounting fears over continued high case numbers and the emerging Omicron variant.
Walk-in clinics began operating at some of the country’s vaccine centres late last week and are due to be opened at all 36 by next Wednesday.
Walk-ins are currently only available to healthcare workers and people aged in their 60s.
Reports over the weekend suggest a large number of people queueing at the centres were not eligible for a booster dose.
"Upset and annoyed"
On Lunchtime Live this afternoon, Gerry from Dublin said he had an appointment for a booster at Croke Park and was told to arrive no earlier than five minutes before his appointment.
When he arrived at the centre, there were “hundreds of people” ahead of him in the queue – around 90% of whom were not over the age of 60.
“Having queued for about an hour, a Garda came along with a security man and advised everybody in the queue that if they hadn’t got an appointment they were to leave because they would not get the vaccine that day,” he said.
“People were upset and annoyed having queued because they had been told it was a walk-in centre for the vaccine.”
Announcing the walk-in centres on Newstalk last week, the HSE chief Paul Reid urged people to ensure they were eligible for a booster before attending a walk-in centre.
Gerry said the Croke Park centre was an “absolute shambles” with elderly people left to queue in freezing cold conditions.
“There was a lady who was bursting for toilet facilities,” he said.
“She went up to the security man at the top of the queue and he told her that if she wanted toilet facilities, she should go across to the Croke Park Hotel.”
The HSE said demand for vaccination increased over the weekend, with “unprecedented demand” at the walk-in centres.
It said it was now making every effort to manage that demand.