The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has welcomed the finalisation of arrangements under which GPs will play a critical role in the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
A plan to ramp up Covid-19 vaccinations with the aid of GPs and pharmacists given the green light by Cabinet this afternoon.
GPs and pharmacists will be able to administer the AstraZeneca vaccine, which can be more easily stored than others requiring ultra-cold storage from as soon as later this month.
The IMO had been in discussions with the Department of Health and the HSE on the matter in recent weeks.
Chair of the GP Committee of the IMO, Dr Denis McCauley, said the plan was “great news for everybody and a milestone in the battle against Covid-19”.
“GPs have been at the forefront in the battle against Covid-19 from the outset as the first point of contact for patients in assessing for testing and in dealing with ongoing management of the disease in patients.
“GPs are uniquely suited to support this mass vaccination effort. We have huge experience of similar campaigns including the annual flu vaccination programme which saw GPs administer the flu vaccine to over 1 million in a matter of weeks late last year,” he said.
GPs administering the vaccination programme are to adhere to agreed protocols in terms of how patient groups are prioritised for receipt of the vaccine.
In the first instance, the population to be invited to receive the vaccine in GP surgeries will be those patients over the age of 70, starting with the older patients over 85.
Dr McCauley said that it is “wonderful that so many people are willing to take the vaccine” but that it was important to recognise that “GPs must in the first instance prioritise patients within the agreed age cohorts and patients will receive an invite into surgeries as they become eligible for vaccination”.
New figures confirmed by the Health Minister show that 94,000 people have received a Covid-19 vaccine dose in the Republic so far.
A total of 140,000 vaccines are expected to be administered by this Sunday and people will also start to receive their second dose of the vaccine this week.