Cork pharmacies ‘scream out for vaccine supply’

Cork pharmacies ‘scream out for vaccine supply’

A queue for the walk-in first vaccine for Covid-19 at the vaccination centre at City Hall, Cork.

A CORK pharmacist is calling for additional supply of Covid-19 vaccines in order to meet demand.

Rose Murphy of Murphy’s Pharmacy on North Main St said that they cleared the supply they had two weeks ago and are “now screaming out for and waiting for supply, with nothing happening”.

She said they were working nights and Sundays to keep on top of demand but that they are now in a situation where they have a three to four week waiting list of people with no vaccines to give them.

Ms Murphy said that while people can register for a vaccine with the HSE, people seem to want to go to their pharmacy as they are convenient and there is a level of trust involved.

“People can register with the HSE but they seem to be hanging in there for one dose which is probably more convenient for younger people,” she said.

She said that the lack of supply of vaccines is “mad” and that if they had the vaccines there would be a lot more people fully vaccinated by now.

“Hopefully now they’ll start giving us more again. I think there’s probably a shortage of the Janssen vaccine as well,” she said.

Speaking about the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) call to supply all vaccinating pharmacies with the Pfizer vaccine as soon as possible to facilitate younger people who are waiting to be vaccinated, Ms Murphy said they are able administer whatever vaccine they are given but that it is the powers that be who will decide on that.

“We’d be so well able but I think we’re underutilised,” she said.

She said there were no cancellations of any appointment in the time they were vaccinating. “We did unbelievably well. We’re centrally situated as well in the city so that was probably a factor. We did have extra doses for which we were able to call in people around us to get so that there was no wastage at all,” she said.

She said that some of those who received the additional doses were in the hospitality industry who have recently opened their doors to the public for indoor dining.

A queue for the walk-in first vaccine for Covid-19 at the vaccination centre at City Hall, Cork.
A queue for the walk-in first vaccine for Covid-19 at the vaccination centre at City Hall, Cork.

“It is a success story and we are a group of people that can be utilised very easily and we do it without fuss and just get on with it and are very accessible to a lot of people which is probably why it works so well,” she said.

Ms Murphy said the pharmacy continues to receive calls on a daily basis in relation to the Covid-19 vaccine but that they now need a supply of vaccine to move forward with the rollout.

Her comments come as IPU secretary general Darragh O’Loughlin said pharmacists can continue to make strong progress if all participating pharmacies are supplied with the Pfizer vaccine.

“The strong demand and positive feedback to date has highlighted the benefits of providing vaccination in local community pharmacies. The vaccination centres have performed admirably but they have their limitations,” Mr O’Loughlin said.

“Travel to vaccine centres, the potential for long queues, and the overall time required could be a disincentive to some people.

Rose Murphy, co-owner, in Murphy's Pharmacy, North Main Street, Cork.
Rose Murphy, co-owner, in Murphy's Pharmacy, North Main Street, Cork.

“As the eligibility for vaccines now expands to younger age groups the challenges of reaching vaccination centres will become amplified for many.

“Younger people are less likely to have access to a car and may have less flexible employment. Pharmacies eliminate these concerns by providing a fast and convenient service within local communities.

“Accessibility and convenience will be key to completing the vaccination campaign and that is what pharmacies offer,” he said.

The IPU said current stocks of the Johnson and Johnson (Janssen) vaccine are diminishing nationwide and vaccination rates could be impacted.

As of last week, pharmacies in the vaccination programme have vaccinated more than 150,000 people in their local communities since the service was launched in June, with over 100,000 of these in the 18 to 29 age bracket.

Of the almost 1,000 participating pharmacies, all were receiving the Janssen vaccine and only about 320 pharmacies are currently administering Pfizer vaccines.

Mr O’Loughlin said that expanding pharmacy vaccine supplies would sustain almost 1,000 vaccination locations “in practically every town and village in the country”, with over half of the Irish population living within 1km of a pharmacy and 85% living within 5km.

WALK-IN CENTRES

Report by Sarah Horgan

CITY HALL opened its doors for the Bank Holiday Weekend in a bid to get as many people vaccinated as possible to curb the spread of Covid-19.

It was one of four locations to operate as a walk-in vaccination centre across the city and county. Clinics offered first dose Covid-19 vaccinations for anyone over the age of 16.

Other locations transformed into vaccination hubs over the weekend included Bantry Primary Care centre who welcomed people from 11am and 3pm yesterday. Meanwhile, frontline workers were vaccinating up until 4pm on Sunday.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said 72.4% of adults were fully vaccinated in Ireland, compared to 72.1% in the UK.

“A brilliant effort by everyone involved,” Mr Martin tweeted.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid said the walk-in initiative would be used again, but not on such a widespread scale as the bank holiday weekend drive.

“Due to the success of it we are looking at how we will utilise it now going forward,” he told RTÉ.

“So we do expect to use it again in a very targeted and focused way not just generally walk-ins but very targeted, focused and promoted. So we do expect to use it again.”

Amy French, 16, Rochestown, Cork, after receiving the vaccine at the walk-in first vaccine for Covid-19 at the vaccination centre at City Hall, Cork, pictured with her father Bernard.
Amy French, 16, Rochestown, Cork, after receiving the vaccine at the walk-in first vaccine for Covid-19 at the vaccination centre at City Hall, Cork, pictured with her father Bernard.

Saturday also saw Ireland mark a landmark in the vaccine rollout when the country overtook the UK in terms of percentage of adults fully vaccinated.

The introduction of the new vaccination clinics comes as medical professionals work around the clock to ensure the majority of the population is vaccinated amid an outbreak of the Delta variant.

Around 10,000 people attended walk-in Covid-19 vaccination centres across the country last Saturday, with an impressive uptake observed among older teenagers.

There are around 163 patients being treated in hospital for the disease with 26 Covid-19 patients remaining in ICU.

The vaccination programme across Cork and Kerry is run in partnership by the South/South West Hospital Group and Cork Kerry Commuity Healthcare, with the support of many parts of the HSE including HSE Estates; ICT and others.

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