Survey finds GPs lack proper vaccination safety equipment


The Department of Health has been asked to consider temporarily halting the meningitis C vaccination campaign on safety grounds because of a lack of proper equipment in general practitioners' surgeries.

A survey by ERHA member Dr Maurice Gueret found that as few as 5 per cent of GPs may be meeting best practice guidelines as issued by the Office for Health Gain.

These guidelines state that the following items should be readily available in a surgery where vaccinations are being carried out:

an intravenous giving set;

paediatric needles;

paediatric and adult ventilation bags;

adult and child masks and reservoirs;

portable oxygen;

five separate sizes of airway breathing equipment.

Dr Gueret surveyed 150 randomly chosen GPs across all health board regions and found that 95 per cent did not have all six items in their practices. Sixty-five per cent of GPs did not have ventilation bags or airways. Two-thirds did not have portable oxygen available in the surgery. A further 60 per cent said they did not have intravenous giving sets or bags of saline.

Dr Gueret has written to the Department of Health outlining his concerns.

"The data is quite shocking - I would have thought there were grounds for either stopping the vaccine programme temporarily or else immediately providing this equipment to every GP in Ireland," he said.

Figures from the Irish Medicines Board show that approximately 350,000 doses of the meningococcal C vaccine have been administered since the launch of the immunisation programme in October. A total of 324 minor side effects have been reported, all of which were non-vaccine specific.

There have been no major reactions recorded which would require the use of the resuscitation equipment.