The IMO is in talks with the HSE on GPs continuing to administer Covid-19 vaccinations after vulnerable patient groups have been vaccinated, the Organisation has told its GP members.
In an email to GPs with updates on the vaccination programme on Friday 7 May, the IMO revealed that GPs who wish to continue with an age-based vaccination programme using the Pfizer vaccine will be facilitated to do so.
But it is envisaged that less than half of GP practices who are currently vaccinating over 70s and vulnerable groups will continue to do so due to the need to resume non-Covid healthcare.
“It is recognised that this will not be feasible for all practices bearing in mind the need to facilitate the normal important work within general practice,” the email stated.
“More points of vaccination will be available to patients over the coming months so at all times there will be alternative pathways for your patients. When details are available, we will communicate further and holding a webinar following which practices will determine whether or not they will to continue.”
Around 1,000 GP practices are currently completing vaccinations for patients in cohorts 4 and 7, while administration of vaccines to the over 70s will be completed shortly.
Speaking to the Medical Independent (MI), Chair of the IMO GP Committee Dr Denis McCauley thanked GPs, who he said were “exhausted”, for all their hard work vaccinating patients.
“I anticipate that a much smaller number than are currently vaccinating will continue with the age-based programme. I want to thank everyone for their hard work. For those who can continue vaccinating, great, but it is not possible for everyone to continue. Vaccinating has been an added burden in general practice.”
This is evidenced by the fact that, at the start of May, GPs had delivered around 50 per cent of all vaccines administered nationally.
Many practices when running vaccine clinics were forced to close surgeries in order to allow social distancing between patients under observation after receiving their vaccine. This has impacted non-Covid healthcare in general practice.
Separately, the update to members confirmed that GPs would not be involved in vaccinating pregnant women.
“The vaccination pathway for pregnant women is being finalised…This will be arranged through the maternity hospital setting and GPs are not being asked to undertake vaccination of this group of patients under this programme.”
Information on a new pathway for vaccinating pregnant women is due to be released shortly.