Nearly 500,000 people over 70 to receive Covid vaccine from their GP
Family doctors, pharmacists welcome new €91m vaccination deal with Government
Dr Fiona Moynihan at a vaccination centre in Dublin: GPs and pharmacists will administer the Covid-19 vaccine to about 1.5 million people. Photograph: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland/PA Wire
About 480,000 people over 70 will receive the Covid-19 vaccine from their general practitioner, under plans given to the Cabinet.
The Government on Tuesday formally agreed a €91 million plan which will see GPs and pharmacists administer the Covid-19 vaccine to about 1.5 million people.
Vaccination of nearly 500,000 people over 70 and living in the community will be the responsibility of GPs. It is expected that they will be called for vaccination in groups according to their age, starting with those over 85.
About 1,800 GPs received the vaccine at three centres across the country last weekend and more than 3,000 other family doctors and their staff will be vaccinated at further large-scale clinics to be put in place later this month.
The Cabinet was told by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly that based on an uptake of 80 per cent, the vaccination scheme involving GPs and pharmacists was expected to cost €91 million.
The Minister said the fees would be reviewed in the months ahead “to assess whether their continuation at this level is sustainable or warranted”.
The deal will cover the administration of the vaccine in GP surgeries, potentially larger premises in localities such as sports or church halls and in mass vaccination centres to be established by the HSE.
The new scheme will come into effect as soon as practicable after the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is approved by EU regulatory authorities and supplies are delivered to Ireland, possibly at the end of January or early in February.
Under the new deal, GPs and pharmacists will be paid €25 for administering each dose of the vaccine in their surgeries or in centres in their localities. An additional single €10 processing fee will be paid per patient. For a two-dose vaccine, such as that being produced by AstraZeneca, the total paid will be €60.
If a single-dose vaccine is subsequently approved, the total paid to GPs will be €35.
GPs who participate in larger mass vaccination centres to be established by the HSE will receive an hourly fee of €120.
Pharmacists who take part in the mass vaccination clinics would be paid a fee of €70 per hour.
The new deal is scheduled to run for six months and would then be reviewed.
Dr Denis McCauley, chair of the GP Committee of the Irish Medical Organisation said: “GPs have been at the forefront in the battle against Covid from the outset as the first point of contact for patients in assessing for testing and in dealing with ongoing management of the disease in patients. GPs are uniquely suited to support this mass vaccination effort. We have huge experience of similar campaigns including the annual flu vaccination programme which saw GPs administer the flu vaccine to over 1 million in a matter of weeks late last year.”
The general secretary of the Irish Pharmacy Union IPU secretary general Darragh O’Loughlin said there were more than 1,800 community pharmacies located in every town, village and neighbourhood across the country and pharmacists were wholeheartedly supportive of the vaccination campaign.
However, he said it was essential that pharmacy staff were vaccinated without delay. He said any further hold-ups in vaccinating pharmacists “could severely impact the pace of the national rollout”.
“This deal will significantly increase the country’s capacity to deliver Covid-19 vaccinations and, with pharmacists providing vaccination in communities across the country, we will increase ease of access and overall uptake of the vaccine. ”