An East Cork family GP has said that GPs would feel “very confident in undertaking a national programme to roll out the vaccination immunisation”.
Dr Mike Thompson of Imokilly Medical Centre in Midleton said that the majortiy of GPs would be happy to engage with the HSE on the rollout of a vaccine.
It comes after final results from the late-stage trial of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine showed 95% effectiveness.
The vaccine, developed with German partner BioNTech, also achieved the safety data milestone required by US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).
The final analysis came just one week after initial results from the trial showed the vaccine was more than 90% effective.
On Monday, Moderna released preliminary data for its vaccine, showing similar effectiveness.
“I know there's talk about giving the vaccine in bigger HSE-approved centres but I think if the HSE are looking for a very quick and comprehensive and holistic rollout, they should be talking to GPs and I do think they’ll talk to us and the majority of GPs would be happy to engage with them,” Dr Thompson said.
He said that some concerns from the point of view of GPs would be ensuring that vaccination would not displace too much other activity but believes general practices to be the “ideal place to give it”.
“We’ve shown that with the flu vaccine notwithstanding the lack of flu vaccines this year but I think the HSE will come calling and GPs will be very happy to step up to the plate.
“I can see why the flu vaccine can be given in lots of places but I would be happier to see a new coronavirus vaccine to be given in general practices for lots of reasons,” he said.
In terms of the number of doses allocated to each GP, Dr Thompson said that it cannot be based on the flu “because it’s a different population” but said that a unique health identifier, akin to a medical card number or PPS number, should be looked into.
“Every GP knows how many medical card patients we have down to the last person because they’re registered with us, it’s not quite the same with private patients. We know a large majority come to us exclusively, but some people don’t go to any GP and some go to lots of different GPs so who's responsible for those people?
“Even for the Government, for data returns and statistics, each patient is going to have a unique medical record number not just a PPS number.
“I think with a new vaccine, people are going to have to be assigned to a practice and we’re going to have to be informed when people get the vaccine because there’ll be a lot of post-marketing surveillance for things like side effects,” he said.
Dr Thompson said that he does not have any concerns in relation to the vaccine once it is safe, cheap and effective.
“GPs are not going to be signing up to something that is not endorsed and statutory recommended,” he said.