Pharmacies are calling for clearance to honour Covid booster vaccine appointments made in error, after they were incorrectly informed they could vaccinate a wider range of cohorts.
On Wednesday morning, pharmacies received information from the HSE that they could provide a booster to a wider range of cohorts, including those who had received the one dose Janssen vaccine.
The secretary general of the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), Darragh O’Loughlin, told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that it later transpired that the document had been sent in error.
Pharmacies can only provide the booster to those aged over 50 years, healthcare workers, pregnant women and those with underlying conditions, he said. People aged between 16 and 49 who do not fall into any of the above cohorts are not currently invited to receive a booster vaccine in a pharmacy.
However, Mr O’Loughlin said appointments had been made for other cohorts and those should be honoured. Pharmacies had made the appointments on the basis of information that they believed to be correct, he said.
It would be a shame to see those people not getting the booster that they had booked, he added.
The number of pharmacies providing the booster vaccine was growing, he said. It had risen from 400 three weeks ago to 700 at present. Supplies of the vaccine were strong and the HSE had agreed additional deliveries over the weekend.
The lifting of the 15-minute post vaccine waiting time requirement will also help speed up the process, Mr O’Loughlin said, and it meant that pharmacies could fit in more vaccinations.
People who had not yet booked an appointment with their pharmacy should telephone to see if there now were extra slots because the 15-minute waiting time had been removed, he advised.
Unlike GPs who could urge patients not to attend at surgeries unless it was urgent, pharmacies could not close their doors to deal only with vaccine clients, he said. In the meantime, they had to continue to dispense prescriptions.