THERE’S been a surge in demand locally for the Covid-19 vaccine in the 18-34 age group, with one pharmacist revealing demand is outstripping supply by almost eight to one.
Chemists across the city and the county are scrambling to service a huge number of requests after Health Minister Stephen Donnelly announced people in the 18-34 age category can avail of a Johnson and Johnson (J&J) single shot jab at pharmacies.
Rory Keating, who runs three chemists – in Roxboro, Newcastle West and Shannon – said as of this Tuesday, he had registered 750 people in that age cohort – but only has 100 inoculations to offer.
Meanwhile, Public Health Mid-West has expressed concern at a rising incidence rate locally – warning Limerick “remains one of the highest in the country”. It comes after over 125 confirmed cases were reported locally since last Friday.
It also revealed the number of cases linked to the Indian Delta variant locally had risen slightly, with less than 20 confirmed cases in the Mid-West region.
One Limerick man who has contracted this variant revealed this week how he spent 22 days in intensive care, with seven days in an induced coma.
Paul Imbusch, a creative merchandising manager, who hails from Wolfe Tone Street in the city, but now lives in London, said he was the youngest in his ward, and following his treatment, he was needing to do “hardcore physio and obeying doctor’s orders all the way”.
There’s been a welcome for the reaction of people in the younger age bracket, with local TD Niall Collins saying: “It is very encouraging to know that there is such a demand from people to get vaccinated through their pharmacies at the earliest possible opportunity”
He said the lack of supply is government’s top priority, and pointed to a shipment due in from Romania.
For now though, Mr Keating says he will be forced into offering the jab on a first-come, first-served basis.
“It’s putting undue pressure on the system. We are now trying to manage expectations. People had an expectation that from Monday, you could get your vaccination from your local pharmacy which was unrealistic,” he said. “We are keen to participate in the programme, but it’s just we’d like communication in terms of the volume of supply, so we can communicate it to the public as well.”
The businessman added: “People are under the assumption if they contact their pharmacy, they will get an appointment. But the supply of the vaccine is a limiting factor.”
Chemists across Limerick reported an “avalanche” of calls following Mr Donnelly’s announcement on Friday.
“The phones were literally ringing off the hook. It was every two or three minutes someone was ringing trying to get through to book an appointment. I wouldn’t have seen anything like it before,” said Diarmuid Cahill of Cahill’s Pharmacy in Newcastle West.
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