The IMO has welcomed the finalisation of arrangements under which GPs will play a critical role in the Covid-19 vaccination programme. The IMO has been in discussions with the Department of Health and the HSE over recent weeks on this matter and the arrangements are being considered by Cabinet today.
The Medical Independent revealed yesterday that agreement between health officials and the IMO was at an advanced stage, with proposals due to be presented to Cabinet for sign-off.
With the likely approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine by the European Medicines Agency in the coming weeks, these arrangements will allow for general practice to vaccinate patients in surgeries given the less onerous storage requirements for this vaccine (compared to current vaccines in use).
Speaking today, Dr Denis McCauley, Chair of the GP committee of the IMO, said: “This is great news for everybody and a milestone in the battle against Covid 19. 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 one million in a matter of weeks late last year.”
GPs administering the vaccination programme will adhere to agreed protocols in terms of how patient groups are prioritised for receipt of the vaccine. In the first instance the population to be invited to receive the vaccine in GP surgeries will be those patients over the age of 70, starting with the older patients over 85 and inviting them for vaccine sequentially until all over 70s are vaccinated.
Dr McCauley said “it is wonderful that so many people are willing to take the vaccine but it is important to recognise that GPs must in the first instance prioritise patients within the agreed age cohorts and patients will receive an invite into surgeries as they become eligible for vaccination.”
For a two-dose vaccine, GPs will be paid €50 (€25 per dose) along with a €10 administration fee. If a one-dose vaccine becomes available in due course, the fee will be €35 (€25 euro and €10 administration fee). GPs working in mass vaccination centres will be paid €120 per hour.