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Over-70s unable to travel will have to wait for Covid-19 vaccination

People aged over 70 unable to travel to GP centres to receive their Covid-19 vaccination will not be vaccinated in the coming weeks, it has emerged.

While stating that “no one will be left behind”, IMO GP Chairman Dr Denis McCauley confirmed that because of the fragility of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the potential for wastage, GPs would not be able to conduct house calls and travel to patients’ homes to administer vaccinations.

A separate vaccination pathway to ensure the vulnerable cohort, which is estimated to be between 1,000-2,000, are vaccinated is being worked out by the HSE and Department of Health, said Dr McCauley.

He explained that for various reasons some patients may be bed or house bound meaning they cannot come to a GP surgery for vaccination.

For others, who simply have no access to transport, this will not inhibit them from receiving the vaccine and transport will be made available, he added.

GPs will identify patients who are unable to travel to GP centres and inform the HSE, who will then work out a solution to ensure they are vaccinated.

A unique solution to ensure those aged over 70 and who live on islands are vaccinated is also being developed.

Ballygar based GP Dr Martin Daly said his rural practice had identified “very few” patients unable to travel to receive their vaccination.

Commenting on the vaccination rollout, he said that “it is a logistical challenge but it can absolutely be met by GPs”.

Dr McCauley said it is hoped all of the 490,000 over-70s will be vaccinated by May.  Around 84 GP practices will receive their first delivery of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine the week beginning 15 February.

Patients aged over 85 from 121 practices in Dublin will be vaccinated at a special clinic in DCU on 20 February.

From the week beginning 22 February, a further 384 practices will receive a vaccine delivery, with the remainder accepting delivery from 1 March. A GP vaccination clinic for the over 85s will commence in Cork on the last weekend of February.

More than 4,000 GPs and practice nurses tuned into a webinar on the vaccination rollout on Tuesday 9 February.

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