The HSE has asked GPs across Cork and Ireland to ensure that the “most vulnerable” are prioritised for flu vaccination amid “unprecedented demand” for the vaccine nationally and internationally.
Ireland has ordered around two million vaccines to ensure much of the population is vaccinated against the seasonal flu, but international demand has led to delays in delivering the full order.
GPs across Cork and Ireland have been forced to make do with small allocations of vaccines, as they await the rest of their orders.
In an email sent to GPs, the HSE said:“As you are aware, there has been unprecedented demand for influenza vaccine this season, both in Ireland and internationally, while the quantities of influenza vaccine available from manufacturers is finite.
“By the 28th October the national cold chain service will have delivered 950,000 QIV influenza vaccines to sites around the country, an increase on the same time last year.
“The fourth cycle of influenza vaccines will be delivered from the 29th of October over a two week period and will be completed by the 11th of November.
“Your fourth delivery will be 25% of your last season's usage,” the HSE told GPs.
“In order to maximise the benefit of the remaining stick we need to ensure the most vulnerable are prioritised for vaccination.”
The HSE advised GPs to prioritise people aged 65 and older, healthcare and home care workers with direct patient contact, pregnant women, people with underlying health conditions and other healthcare workers.
Delays in obtaining flu vaccine supply have been well documented in recent weeks, with drive-thru clinics and GP clinics in Cork impacted.
In recent weeks, Ireland’s first drive-thru vaccine clinic was established in Midleton to provide the flu vaccine to patients on weekends.
According to organisers, the clinic has the capacity to vaccinate around 28,000 people over a 16-week period but international flu vaccine supply issues have already curtailed its operation.