Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has expressed confidence that 70 per cent of GPs will be able to provide the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to patients in their own surgeries.
There were about 400 smaller practices who may have to provide local solutions such as joining together with neighbouring practices or coming together in a centre or working from the premises of larger practices, he told RTÉ radio’s News at One.
The Minister’s comments come as GPs have expressed concern over the logistics of older patients from remote locations accessing vaccination hubs.
It is understood that those aged over 70 will be vaccinated at large GP surgeries, primary care centres and dedicated vaccination facilities from mid-February, to allow for easier mass storage of the Pfizer and Moderna jabs, which require ultra-cold specialised storage.
It comes after the Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed that people aged over 70 will be offered the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines rather than AstraZeneca's, following recommendation from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee.
Mr Donnelly said that 21,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were expected to arrive in the country this weekend, from a total of 190,000 doses for the month of February. It remained unclear how much of the final quantity of the scheduled 600,000 doses for the first quarter would arrive.
The doses arriving this weekend would be administered to frontline workers early next week, he said. The remaining doses would be given to cohorts 4 and 5 of the Government's rollout plan, including key workers and those with underlying health conditions.
This situation had always been a possibility so plans were in place, added Mr Donnelly of the State's reworked vaccination plan after the AstraZeneca jab was ruled out for those over 70.