Covid-19: ‘All GPs and staff’ to be vaccinated be end of February

Family doctors have been expressing frustration over delay in obtaining vaccines

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has announced that based on current projections 700,000 people in the State will have received a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of March. Video: Oireachtas TV

 

All GPs and their staff are to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of February, according to an agreement reached between medical organisations and the HSE.

Their vaccines will be administered at nursing homes and hospitals and in community settings, according to the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP).

Some family doctors have been expressing frustration this week over the delay in being vaccinated, with a number saying services in their surgeries might have to be curtailed due to high infection rates and large numbers of staff being out of work as they are close contacts of confirmed cases.

There was also criticism of the online registration portal set up by the HSE after it crashed earlier this week, though this problem has since been resolved.

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.

The ICGP said GPs who have not yet received the vaccine must register via the portal by close of business on Thursday or via email in the case of nursing homes.

Dr Nuala O’Connor, Covid-19 clinical lead at the ICGP, said family doctors and their practice teams would be vaccinated “as quickly as possible”.

“We appreciate the natural anxiety of GPs in ensuring they and their teams are vaccinated, and there were expectations this portal link would be available on Friday last. These delays have been resolved.

“The target for completion is the end of February 2021 or hopefully earlier and this will be solely determined by the supply and type of vaccines available.”

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 this month.

However, they would have to be vaccinated first before immunising others.