More than 1,000 house-bound elderly patients have yet to receive their Covid-19 vaccination, it has emerged.
The HSE programme of home vaccinations for the over 70s began on 13 March – one month after vaccinations began for the general over 70s population.
More than 2,200 house-bound people over 70 have been referred for a home vaccination by their GP. Home vaccinations are being carried out by the HSE National Ambulance Service (NAS).
As of the morning of 7 April, more than 1,000 first dose vaccinations had occurred, according to a HSE spokeswoman.
“Of referrals received to date, a significant proportion of people referred by their GP were not available or eligible for vaccination for a number of reasons (already vaccinated, were hospitalised, had transferred to residential care or were deceased),” the spokeswoman told the Medical Independent (MI).
“Individuals who have been registered for home vaccination will be contacted by the NAS to schedule an appointment to administer the vaccine. NAS have been contacting all referred individuals to arrange for their home vaccination.”
The home vaccination service is being provided seven days a week.
“Following vaccination, NAS contact relevant GPs to notify them that vaccination has taken place and to advise of any immediate concerns or side effects experienced by the patient.”
ICGP Covid-19 Dr Nuala O’Connor told MI that all GPs have submitted lists of their housebound patients to the HSE.
She said there had been two incidents where the NAS had refused to accept patients put forward for vaccination by GPs as they had missed a submission deadline. The NAS then implied to the patient that it was the GPs’ fault, according to Dr O’Connor.
“These are only minor incidents but there have been some miscommunications there. The National Ambulance Service are, like everyone else, under a lot of pressure. They are gradually trying to get to as many as they can and, to be fair, I don’t think it is a major issue.”
Meath GP Dr Marie Scully has expressed concern that none of her house-bound patients have been vaccinated yet.
“I have a 101-year-old whose son in his 70s will be done before her at this rate,” she said.
Several GPs have reported delays in vaccine deliveries. Some over-70 patients due to receive their second dose will wait longer than the recommended four weeks due to delays.
Furthermore, many GPs have been forced to cancel vaccination clinics as promised deliveries failed to arrive on time, leaving some patients in tears.