GPs and practice teams in Limerick and across the country will receive vaccinations in acute hospital and community settings by the end of February.
In a statement this Wednesday, the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) and the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) announced the vaccination plan for GPs and practice teams, following agreement with the HSE on January 12.
Delays in setting up the portal for registration have been resolved, it says.
Dr Nuala O’Connor, clinical lead on Covid-19 with the ICGP, said: "We appreciate the natural anxiety of GPs in ensuring GPs and their teams are vaccinated, and there were expectations this portal link would be available on Friday last. These delays have been resolved. We welcome the plan to vaccinate GPs and practice teams as agreed with the HSE."
The plan will see remaining GPs and their practice teams receive the vaccine at designated nursing homes, acute hospital and community settings during January and February. Some GPs and their teams have already received the vaccine and others have received appointments.
The Leader has learned a number of nurses with GP practices in Limerick were emailed on Thursday, January 7, asking them to register for the vaccine rollout. This came as a great relief due to the numbers they are meeting on a daily basis, many presenting with Covid symptoms.
Then on Monday, January 11, they received an email saying that the original email was sent in error and they will be receiving the vaccine at the end of February. This left many of the nurses "annoyed and angry at dashed hopes of getting the vaccine sooner".
The Leader has seen a copy of the letter sent out by the ICGP and IMO to its members. In the document it says there will be three vaccine settings in this "priority phase".
It reads: "Immediate: Nursing Homes – For GPs only due to the limitations of amount of personnel allowed into these very vulnerable nursing home settings and where visitors are already highly restricted. Estimated GP uptake of approximately 1,500 GPs, depending on vaccine availability in specific locations. All will receive two doses of the vaccine with agreed interval.
“Immediate: Dedicated vaccine centres in three locations nationally – for GPs and practice nurses. (Dedicated vaccine allocation for 1,800 GPs and practice nurses). GPs and practice nurses who are scheduled to these clinics will need to travel as the vaccine is fragile and cannot be broken down and transported across the country. All will receive two doses of the vaccine with agreed interval.”
The letter goes on to say on the week of January 25, "Dedicated vaccine centres /acute settings – GPs and practice nurses (dedicated vaccine allocation for 3,000 GPs and practice nurses).
"From end of January onwards all remaining practice team members will be scheduled an appointment either in acute or community setting – depending on what kind of vaccines are available at that time i.e Astra Zeneca if approved."
It says the target for completion is "no later than end February 2021 or earlier depending on supply and type of vaccines available".
Returning to the official IMO and ICGP official statement, Dr O’Connor said GPs and their teams will be critical to the delivery of a successful vaccination programme to the wider population, building on the GPs’ vast experience in previous vaccination campaigns, and their long-established relationship with patients.
"The Covid-19 vaccination programme will be a mammoth national project and will be rolled out in the coming months," said Dr O’Connor.