Administrators getting Covid vaccine before GPs, says doctor

Angry GPs react to news they may have to wait up to eight weeks to be vaccinated

Preparing a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. Photograph: Patrick T Fallon/AFP via Getty

Preparing a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. Photograph: Patrick T Fallon/AFP via Getty

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GPs have responded angrily to news that they might have to wait up to eight weeks to be vaccinated against Covid-19, long after other frontline health workers are immunised.

The Irish College of GPs told members yesterday it was engaging with the HSE to ensure all GPs and their staff were vaccinated “within the next six to eight weeks”.

It acknowledged there were “some difficulties” with the registration portal, which the HSE was trying to resolve. The same online portal will eventually be used to register vaccinations among members of the public.

While more than 10 per cent of GPs have been vaccinated, this has arisen through their links to hospitals or by invitation to hospital vaccination sessions.

Medical Council president and GP Rita Doyle said her colleagues and their staff were desperate to get vaccinated and were promised access to a booking portal on Monday but this had not materialised.

Doctors’ warnings

Some doctors suggested on social media their surgeries might have to close due to the non-availability of vaccines. “If GPs are not vaccinated soon, practices will have to further restrict services, some will inevitably close and out-of-hours will be suspended,” rural GP Patrick O’Dwyer commented.

“When administrators without patient contact are getting vaccines before GPs who are seeing hundreds of patients each month, somebody has made a really stupid decision,” said Galway doctor Brian O’Higgins.

GPs and pharmacists are expected to be heavily involved in the rollout of vaccines if the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which does not have special cold storage requirements, is approved by the European Medicines Agency at the end of the month. However, they would have to be vaccinated first before immunising others.

Asked about reports of non-frontline staff getting the vaccine ahead of time, the HSE said it had no specific accounts of deviation from a reasonable approach to prioritisation but if any specific incidents of inappropriate prioritisation for the vaccine were identified, “this will be addressed”.