By Cate McCurry, PA
Ireland has secured an order of vaccines against monkeypox, HSE boss Paul Reid has said.
The chief executive said that he expects the delivery to be made “very shortly”.
Mr Reid also said it is “more likely than not” that Ireland will see cases of monkeypox within its own health system.
He made the comments after health officials in Northern Ireland confirmed on Thursday that a case of monkeypox has been identified in the North.
“More likely than not we will see cases in our health service,” Mr Reid said.
“It doesn’t spread easily between people, it’s generally a skin-to-skin transmission.
“It is a mild, self-limiting illness and most people do recover in weeks.
“We’ve secured an order of vaccines that we expect to deliver very shortly. We have put in place a whole set of incident management teams, and putting communications out with our health services in terms of what to monitor.”
He also said that they will consider vaccinating healthcare workers, but will take advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) on the matter.
He said there is evidence across Europe of vaccinating healthcare workers.
On Thursday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that it was “inevitable” that monkeypox will be detected here.
“We’re not aware of any cases in the Republic of Ireland as of yet, but it’s almost inevitable – in fact, it is inevitable – that there will be cases in the Republic of Ireland,” he added.
Meanwhile, Mr Reid also said the HSE is focusing on its community intervention teams as another way to treat older people.
HSE management is under pressure to tackle waiting hours in emergency departments after it emerged that the average waiting time for admission in hospital emergency departments was nearly 14 hours for people aged 75 and over.
Mr Reid said they are working on improving the system outside the hospital, which includes community intervention teams and multidisciplinary teams who treat older people in the community.
“These things take time, but there are right things that we are resourcing,” Mr Reid told RTÉ Morning Ireland.
“Then within the emergency department itself, we are very focused on some initiatives that we are putting in place around a greater screening processes emergency departments have with local community, with local GPs.
“What we are focused on, and we’re finalising these now particularly emergency departments, specific plans for each emergency department and each hospital all across the country.
“Each hospital are returning back to myself and the teams, for review, of very specific and targeted emergency department relations within their own emergency department.
“We are focused on recruiting more advanced nurse practitioners to relieve the pressure on medics and consultants.
“It is about very specific targeted interventions. Some of the interventions again are outside of the emergency department.”
He said that other initiatives include mobile diagnostics which would see health staff going into nursing homes with mobile scans, therefore reducing the need for older people to go from nursing homes into a hospital.