Large-scale Covid vaccination clinics to be set up for over-70s

ireland
Large-Scale Covid Vaccination Clinics To Be Set Up For Over-70S
GP Mary Behan administering a Covid vaccine to GP Ellaheebuksh Muhammud Fardeen at a vaccination centre in Dublin. Photo: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland
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A number of large-scale vaccination clinics are to be established in Dublin, Cork and Galway under new plans for administering the Covid-19 vaccine to those over the age of 70.

Under the new plans, seen by The Irish Times, the first of these clinics will be set up at Dublin City University (DCU) where patients attached to 121 practices across the capital will receive the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

Details of the new plan have been worked out following talks between the HSE and the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO).

However, most patients over the age of 70 will still receive the Covid vaccine from their own family doctor practice.

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In a bulletin to its members on Friday night, seen by The Irish Times, the IMO said some 72,000 people over 85 will be first to be vaccinated, the first of 490,000 over 70s around the State.

The over 85s are to be vaccinated in three week-long slots, starting on February 15th “during which time the objective is to vaccinate patients over 85 and then continue on with the age schedule”.

Patients will all receive two doses of either Pfizer or Moderna. The vast majority of patients will be vaccinated in their own GP practice – some 70 per cent of GP practices will see their patients vaccinated on site – with deliveries through the HSE’s cold chain to all practices with more than 200 patients aged over 70.

'Buddying up' system

However, for practices with fewer than 200 over 70s – some 400 practices – vaccinations will take place on two pathways. The first will be through GP vaccination clinics, and the second pathway is through a “buddying up” system.

The vaccination clinics in urban centres will be at agreed locations – among the first of these will be in DCU, where 121 practices will come together to run clinics. The clinics will operate at the weekend.

The “buddying up system”, outside urban centres, will see practices paired with a larger practice in their area. Patients from smaller practices will attend the larger practice, but will be dealt with by their GP and his or her staff.

The plans come after the European Medicines Agency authorised a third vaccine, the Oxford AstraZeneca jab, for distribution in the EU.

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Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said, following the authorisation of the AstraZeneca vaccine, he asked the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) led by Prof Karina Butler to provide advice on the use of this vaccine in older adults and to consider the appropriate time interval between the first and second doses.

“Based on their advice, I recommended to the Minister for Health that we provide only the mRNA vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, to people over the age of 70,” he said.

“This is because trials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines showed higher efficacy overall including among older adults.

“Data on efficacy among older adults with AstraZeneca vaccine is lacking at this time.”

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