Cork pharmacist says demand for vaccine is insatiable with pharmacies seeing almost 2,500 calls in a day

Cork pharmacist says demand for vaccine is insatiable with pharmacies seeing almost 2,500 calls in a day

Ismael Furlin and Lisinea Bannato at the registration desk at Broderick's Chemist on Barrack Street, Cork on the first morning of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout at pharmacies for the 18-34 age group. Picture Dan Linehan

A pharmacist overseeing the Covid-19 vaccine rollout at a number of Cork pharmacies said the demand for the jab in the 18 to 34 cohort is currently insatiable and asked the public to bear with them while assuring people ‘we will get there’.

Keith O’Hourihane is a superintendent pharmacist with the Pharmacy First Plus Group in Cork which has four establishments across the city and county in Glanmire, Onslow Gardens, Grenagh, and Tower.

The Cork pharmacist said he has never seen anything like the demand for the Covid vaccine.

Mr O’Hourihane said the group’s website crashed 10 minutes before the launch of the vaccine appointment system and said the pharmacies saw a huge increase in calls to the pharmacy from 500 to almost 2,500 queries a day.

Waiting list closed 

The pharmacy group closed its vaccine waiting list after reaching 900 people on Tuesday, but Mr O’Hourihane said his staff was working late nights and early mornings as well as weekends in order to ensure the safe and speedy administration of the Janssen and Pfizer vaccines, which they have in stock.

Other pharmacy groups such as Boots and independent chemists such at Broderick’s on Barrack St, Cork, also closed their vaccine waiting list due to the unprecedented demand.

“Up until now, they have been opening the opportunity [to register for a Covid-19 vaccine] to five-year age groups and this is a 17-year age group so you can understand why there is such a surge,” said Mr O’Hourihane.

The experienced pharmacist said, at the moment, there is not enough vaccines to meet the demand, but he also asked people to bear with the inundated pharmacies.

“Please don’t phone your pharmacy and ask about a vaccine appointment; check their social media and if they say don’t phone, don’t call,” he said.

Delighted to be involved in rollout 

Mr O’Hourihane assured people they were doing their very best to get the vaccines out to as many people as possible.

“We have no desire to leave vaccines in the fridge and we don’t want to see a single dose wasted.

“There is no discrimination, we are being unfair to everyone, equally.”

Speaking about the rollout, Mr O’Hourihane said pharmacists were delighted to be part of the process and vaccinating people.

“We have wanted to be a part of the process since December, so it’s great to be doing it. We are delighted.”

Yesterday, a HSE spokesperson told The Echo that the majority of pharmacies will be receiving 100 doses, while a small number are receiving 50 doses, with areas of high demand given priority.

“The HSE, in collaboration with the Irish Pharmacy Union, have developed a model that will ensure vaccines will be distributed to the locations with the greatest demand,” said the HSE spokesperson.

“This will allow people to access the vaccine quickly and we can avoid any potential wastage.

“The expected delivery of Janssen vaccines for July is 80,000.”

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