GPs will begin to receive deliveries of Covid-19 vaccines this morning as the State’s rollout ramps up to include those aged over 85.
Vaccinations will take place in local GP practices or in one of 40 vaccination centres around the country, marking the first time that vaccines have been administered outside a hospital or nursing home setting in the Republic.
It is envisaged that up to 80,000 people aged over 85 will receive a jab from Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna over the next three weeks.
Patients are “very keen” to receive the vaccine, chairman of the GP Committee of the Irish Medical Organisation, Dr Denis McCauley said.
When we ask them they will come
Dr McCauley told Newstalk Breakfast that of the 144 patients aged over 85 in his own practice, there had been “zero refusals.”
“When we ask them they will come,” he said.
Some practices had experienced an amazing response, with all their patients in this age group responding within three hours of receiving a text about the vaccine. “Clinics have been booked out.”
Either the patients themselves or members of their family were technology “savvy” and were responding to the texts, he said.
Dr McCauley anticipated that the first “needle in the arm” would probably be on Tuesday.
The Irish Times reports that vaccinations will begin either later today or tomorrow, depending on the times that vaccines arrive at GP practices.
Some 2,700 doses are due to be delivered to GP practices on Monday, among 106 clinics that will administer mostly Pfizer jabs.
This delivery will be followed by 3,500 further doses on Tuesday, 2,300 on Wednesday, 3,500 on Thursday and 2,200 on Friday. Just one of 106 practices will receive Moderna vaccines.
Dr Shane McKeogh, founder of the GP Buddy system which has been monitoring Covid referrals, told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that they had experienced no hesitancy among the 110 patients over the age of 85 in his practice.
“They are thrilled, absolutely delighted to receive the call, they can’t wait to get it.”
Dr McKeogh added that the GP Buddy system had noticed a decrease in the number of patients being referred for Covid-19 tests.
After Christmas when numbers were high, an average of eight to 10 patients being referred each day was recorded, but that figure had come down to one case per day recently.
Meanwhile, Professor Sam McConkey of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has called for GPs to have “standby” lists of those aged over 70 in place.
“You obviously don’t want to waste any of the five or six or seven doses in a vial, so it’s better if they deescalate and give it to someone who’s 70 who’s on a standby list,” he said.
“You know the airlines when we used to fly around the place, you could be on standby waiting for a seat but you didn’t know if you’d get one or not – so maybe the GP practice could have some of the over 70s on standby.
“If the over 80s decide not to or aren’t able to travel, or there aren’t enough or them, that the over 70s then can fill in and take those doses.”
Separately, Dr McCauley said he expected doctors to have reserve lists of below-85s recipients, to ensure that no vaccines would be wasted given the time constraints on administering doses once they are prepared.