A GP has expressed annoyance and concern at calls for the public not to attend their doctor before Christmas unless it is urgent.
Dr Peter Sloan, who has a family practice in Carraroe, Co Galway, warned that people “could come to harm” if they did not go to their GP with some ailments.
He told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne that people were afraid to go to their GP because of the focus on the booster vaccine programme. “I’m not too busy that I won’t see patients,” he said.
The booster campaign could be managed along with regular appointments, he said.
Dr Sloan said there had been a “rabbit in the headlights” approach to the booster campaign. It was all down to proper management, he said. “I am very angry. There are other conditions than Covid.”
He also questioned the vaccine supply issue. GPs had been requesting supplies for some time, and then this week they were being offered “unlimited amounts”. He asked if “a switch had been flipped” somewhere to provide the vaccine.
GPs had been planning for the booster campaign for some time with spreadsheets of patients, he said, but they had now been “pre-empted.”
Dr Sloan's comments come as the Minister for Health confirmed that those aged 40 and over will be able to book a Covid-19 vaccine booster from next week.
Stephen Donnelly also said that the 15-minute wait after receiving the jab is to be waived to allow more to receive it.
On Wednesday evening, he said the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) made the recommendation, which he has accepted.
He said vaccine centres will only close for two days over the festive season – Christmas Day and St Stephen’s Day.
Mr Donnelly said the aim is the current groups eligible for the booster – over 50s, those with underlying conditions, healthcare workers, nursing home residents and pregnant women – will all have had a booster or been offered an appointment by the end of the year.