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GP vaccination rollout to expand to new cohorts

GPs will in April begin administering vaccines in general practice to people aged 16-69 with medical conditions that put them at very high risk of severe disease and death, according to IMO GP Chairman Dr Denis McCauley.

Speaking to the Medical Independent (MI), Dr McCauley said that the IMO was in talks with the HSE “on helping them to vaccinate this high risk group” of patients.

It is expected that GPs will shortly be given the go-ahead to vaccinate those within the group who do not attend hospital for regular care.

This represents between 100,000 and 150,000 patients, many of whom have uncontrolled diabetes, obesity, cancer and are immunocompromised.

Vaccinating the group will result in about an average of 30-40 patient vaccinations per GP practice nationally, said Dr McCauley.

“GPs are interested and willing to provide the Astra Zeneca vaccine but it will depend on good communication regarding deliveries and good access to vaccine supply. 

“The vast majority of GPs are keen to do this but it will be optional. In cases where a patient’s GP decides not to provide the vaccine to them they will most likely be vaccinated in a mass vaccination centre.

“This won’t interfere greatly with the work of GPs but it will be a burden and GPs will adapt. We have the systems to identify these patients.”

The IMO is also in discussions with the HSE on providing vaccinations to patients in cohort seven, confirmed Dr McCauley. This includes those aged 16-64 who have an underlying condition that puts them at high risk of severe disease and death.

Following immense frustration among GPs due to poor communication on vaccine deliveries, Dr McCauley said that “agitation levels” had abated due to improvements in communication.

“GPs are now being told early when they will get reduced supplies and can therefore plan. This was not the case before.

“I empathise with GPs’ frustrations. While things have improved there will always be logistical cock-ups aside from this. That is not acceptable but that is the way of the world.”

GPs remain on schedule, despite recent supply shortfalls, to vaccinate all over 70s by the middle of May, he said.

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