‘Not fair to take this out on GP teams’: Intimidating calls over vaccine rollout unfortunate, says Cork GP

‘Not fair to take this out on GP teams’: Intimidating calls over vaccine rollout unfortunate, says Cork GP

Dr Nuala O'Connor about to administer vaccines to patients at Elmwood Medical Practice, Frankfield, Cork. Pic; Larry Cummins

A CORK GP has labelled intimidating calls being received by GPs in relation to the vaccine rollout as “unfortunate and upsetting”.

Dr Nuala O’Connor of Elmwood Medical Practice in Frankfield, who is also the Covid-19 lead for the Irish College of General Practitioners, said she has witnessed “a significant amount of behaviour by people who are frustrated that it is not yet their turn to be vaccinated” at her own practice.

Speaking to The Echo, she said people should remember that it is “not fair to take this out on GP teams”.

“Thankfully a lot of our patients are extremely thoughtful and grateful for the work that we do. There is a great atmosphere of positivity on the days that we do vaccinate at Elmwood. Ultimately no one will be left behind and everybody who wants to get vaccinated will be offered a vaccine, it’s just going to take a bit of time,” Dr O’Connor said.

She said that at present, GPs are only receiving a supply of vaccines every two weeks and are concentrating on administering the over-70s cohort with that supply.

“Many of us have been left short of enough to do each age cohort so instead of being able, for example, to vaccinate all of our 75-79-year-olds during the same week, we have had to wait another two weeks for the next delivery to complete them. For some larger practices, it has taken three deliveries to receive enough vaccines.

“Individual GPs have absolutely no control over this vaccine supply so it is extremely unfair and unhelpful to be giving out to our teams because you have to wait another two weeks. We have received communication accusing us of being negligent and abandoning older patients.

“For those under 70, while I do understand the frustration of patients who naturally want to know when is it [their] turn to be vaccinated, this information is available on the HSE website and is regularly communicated on the media.

“We actually do not have any vaccine for allocation group 4 or allocation group 7, those in the very high-risk or high-risk groups aged 65 and under. We have been asked to support vaccinating these populations in due course but we have no confirmed date as to when we will actually receive a supply of a vaccine to each individual practice.”

Dr O’Connor said she gets asked if the practice can provide the Pfizer vaccine as some people do not want to take the AstraZeneca dose offered through a HSE-run clinic. She said GPs “do not have any spare doses and cannot put you on a magic list”.

“We have very strict guidelines as to what to do with any extra doses we may have moving down to age cohorts and some of those in the very high-risk medical categories,” she said.

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