The HSE has claimed that adequate supplies of the flu vaccine will be provided for those in at-risk groups.
However, the Irish College of General Practitioners has revealed that delays in the delivery of the vaccine to GPs has impacted plans to open dedicated flu vaccine clinics.
Cork GP and clinical lead on Covid-19 for the ICGP, Dr Nuala O’Connor, said the ICGP is aware that there is a delay in GPs receiving their full quota of flu vaccine.
“We understand from the HSE that by the end of this week, all GPs will have received a small initial quantity, and will then act to start vaccinating their most vulnerable patients.
“Our members had hoped to start vaccinating people as quickly as possible, and plans for dedicated flu vaccine clinics will need to be delayed until we have sufficient flu vaccine in our surgeries.
“Our understanding is that this is a temporary issue and will be resolved,” added Dr O’Connor.
“The HSE has assured the College that there will be adequate supplies of vaccine for all of those in the at-risk groups.” It was announced in recent months that at-risk groups and children would receive the flu vaccination free this year, in a bid to prevent hospitals being overrun by both the winter flu and Covid-19.
However, it emerged last month that the delivery of the vaccination was delayed by a number of weeks after Sinn Fein TD Louise O’Reilly raised the issue.
Another Cork GP recently highlighted the importance of the flu vaccine in ensuring the health service can cope over the coming winter.
Dr Mike Thompson toldin August that the HSE will have to ensure it can supply an adequate stock of flu vaccines.
Dr Thompson said that flu vaccine uptake will be as important as ever this winter, even as Ireland tries to come to grips with Covid-19.
A spokesperson for the HSE said the first deliveries of influenza vaccines to GPs, pharmacists and nursing homes began on September 17 this year, around the same time as last year (September 16).
“The vaccine is distributed in an organised way over two weeks from 17th September and then two weekly thereafter,” she said.
“All GPs and other recipients of the vaccine know their date for delivery.
“Everybody is getting at least what they received at this time last year,” she added.
“There has been no change to the at-risk target groups for adult influenza vaccination this season.
“As ever the HSE is dependent on the manufacturer delivering the vaccine into Ireland.”