The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has criticised Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and the HSE for failure to include pharmacies in the delivery of Covid-19 booster vaccinations.
The union has said the oversight will intensify the issue of GP capacity.
Darragh O’Loughlin, Secretary General of the IPU said, “While we welcome that the booster vaccine programme will commence shortly, we believe it is a major mistake not to include pharmacies in the programme.”
“The involvement of pharmacies in the Covid-19 vaccination campaign has been a resounding success.
“Now, as the urgency to deliver booster shots rises it is unconscionable that pharmacies are being excluded from involvement.
“This decision can only serve to slow down the vaccination process. This will deprive people whose immunity would benefit from Covid booster shot.
“We believe it is imperative that booster vaccines be made available to frontline workers including pharmacists and pharmacy staff as a matter of priority, particularly in light of the worrying increase in infection numbers.
“Involving pharmacies is particularly important given the extreme concerns being expressed by GPs about their capacity. GPs are, by their own admission, already heavily overstretched.
Mr O’Loughlin urged the Minister for Health and HSE to revisit the decision.
“It is in everyone’s interests that they enlist the large cohort of highly experienced pharmacist vaccinators who have proven their ability to deliver vaccinations on a significant scale,” he said.
“Several months after the primary vaccination campaign started in Ireland, pharmacies were finally enlisted in June. That proved to be a turning point with tens of thousands of people able to avail of vaccines in the convenience of their own community.
“Earlier in the year, pharmacies had to campaign for a role in Covid vaccinations.
“Having now proven the successful role the sector can play, it is hugely frustrating to be overlooked once again.”