'Councillors should be advocates for the health service' - Colr. Harkin

Councillors should be encouraging the public to get vaccinated in a bid to help the beleaguered health service.

Councillor Shaun Harkin.
Councillor Shaun Harkin.

That’s the message People Before Profit Councillor Shaun Harkin sent out during a recent meeting of the Health and Community Committee.

Members received a presentation from Teresa Molloy and Dr Bob Brown on the Western Trust’s Resilience Plan to Address Winter Pressures and any Subsequent Waves in COVID-19 Pandemic.

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Councillor Harkin said: “The health service is being hammered by all sorts of different pressures.

“We as a council need to do everything we can to help the health service right now and part of that is continuing to make the argument to encourage people to get vaccinated, whether that’s members of the public who are not yet convinced or those in a health care setting.

“We need to be persuaders in trying to win people over to the science that says getting the Covid vaccine is the best protection for yourself and the people around you.

“I would also encourage people to get the flu vaccine which I have got myself and I think that’s something we can do as councillors, be advocates for the health service.”

Colr. Harkin’s party colleague Maeve O’Neill added: “I have had my booster vaccine and I really appreciate having that privilege of being one of the first in our communities to get it as an employee of the Trust, so I value that.”

Currently self isolating after testing positive for Covid, Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly said: “I would like to pay tribute to the professionalism, dedication and commitment of the health workers in Altnagelvin and beyond.

“People are doing a great job in difficult circumstances and there is no doubt the health service is under attack.

“As someone who has tested positive for Covid and is currently isolating I am very, very reassured that I will have access to these levels of expertise if required."

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Western Trust Director of Performance & Service Improvement, Teresa Molloy said: “I welcome your comments and that public representatives need to be persuaders.

“There’s an enormously difficult task ahead and we would ask for public support and council’s support in the help to minimise the transmission of Covid in line with public health guidance and we also ask that the population strive to be vaccinated and receive their booster if that’s appropriate going into this winter period.”