A drive-thru flu vaccine clinic in Cork was forced to close due to delays in receiving vaccine stock but there is still time to ensure those eligible are vaccinated, according to a Cork doctor.
Cork GPs, including Dr Mike Thompson, came together in recent weeks to establish the drive-thru flu vaccine clinic in Midleton in a bid to vaccinate large numbers of people on a daily basis over several weekends.
Organisers believed the clinic had the potential to vaccinate hundreds of people a day if properly stocked with vaccines.
However, unprecedented international demand has led to delays in the delivery of flu vaccines to GPs and pharmacists across Ireland, including in Cork, leading to the closure of the drive-thru clinic.
Speaking to The Echo, Dr Thompson said it was a “pity” to see the clinic close but that they proved it could be done in future.
“We were able to do a car a minute,” he said.
“If you had the stock and replicated that in every town in Ireland, it’d only take a week to vaccinate everyone.
“We showed how quickly we can mobilise and get it done - it’s not rocket science,” he added.
“It’s just a pity that we haven’t had the supply of vaccines to keep it open.” Dr Thompson said the HSE appears to have ordered enough vaccines for the eligible cohort but that the delivery of the vaccines is “delayed, staggered and fractured.”
“We would have liked to get people in quickly, get them vaccinated and get ready for the other issues that winter will bring for general practice,” he said.
“We are where we are and there is still time to get people vaccinated - flu season is from November to April.” Dr Thompson said he will return to holding walk-through vaccine clinics in his surgery as supply allows.
“I think we’ll get most of the eligible cohort vaccinated before Christmas but I don’t know if there’s enough for everyone,” he said.
“Certainly non-eligible people, which is around half the population, haven’t a chance of getting one this year.” However, Dr Thompson said Ireland may not experience a winter flu surge this year due, in part, to Covid-19 measures.
“With the children getting their vaccines and the over 65s, as well as the social distancing and other measures that people are adhering to, you’d hope that we’re not going to see too much flu this year,” he explained.
“They haven’t seen much at all in Australia and that’s usually a bit of an indication of what we can expect over here.
“There are plenty of flu vaccines for children available for those between two and 13,” he added.
“It’s fully free, there’s no needles as it’s a nasal spray so I’d encourage parents to get their kids vaccinated.”