Vaccines for 200 patients failed to arrive this week, GP says

ireland
Vaccines For 200 Patients Failed To Arrive This Week, Gp Says
Vials of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine at a doctor's surgery in Waterford. Photo: PA
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Vivienne Clarke

A Dublin GP has told of how vaccines for 200 patients aged 80 to 85 failed to arrive on Thursday despite emails to confirm delivery.

Dr Hugh Daly, from Palmerstown, Co Dublin, had expected the vaccine to arrive early on Thursday and had made appointments with the 200 patients to receive their vaccine.

“The system just doesn’t seem to be working very effectively,” he told RTÉ’s News at One.

A separate delivery of needles and syringes has also not arrived, he added. “We just don’t know if it is going to come and if we should schedule a clinic for Saturday.

“We’re all ready to rock and roll, but without the vaccine we can’t proceed.”

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Dr Nuala O’Connor, Covid lead for the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), told the same programme that her practice in Cork had also experienced problems, with one deliver 12 doses short for patients.

She said it was good news that thousands of over-85s around the country had been vaccinated. There were a lot of successes in the first two weeks of the rollout, but there appeared to have been a significant number of problems on week three.

“We need people to understand that their personal GP is not at fault,” she said, and the vaccine was being given to patients “as quickly as we get them”.

Lead-in time

Dr O’Connor said initially delivery was working on 48 hours notice, but this had changed to 24 hours, which did not leave sufficient time for GPs to make appointments and arrangements. GPs needed a longer lead-in time and to know the vaccine would arrive when it was supposed to.

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Dr O’Connor also wanted to correct a media report which indicated part of the problem was GP surgeries were not operating on Saturdays. That was not the case, she said, “as soon as they arrive they are given.”

There was a supply issue and delivery was being very carefully mapped. The Buddy system, where smaller practices joined together, had worked very well with a few issues such as the vaccine being delivered to the incorrect practice.

However, she acknowledged that there were a number of small practices with “very few” patients in that age group for whom bespoke arrangements needed to be made.

“We know now that it is going to go into a fourth week,” she said.

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