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Some GP frustration amid vaccine rollout

More than 90,000 people over the age of 80 will have received their first Covid-19 vaccine dose by the end of this week, according to the Chair of the IMO GP Committee Dr Denis McCauley.

Around 50,000 vaccinations occurred in the community last week while 42,000 vaccines will be delivered this week by 500 GP practices, Dr McCauley told the Medical Independent (MI).

Some 72,000 individuals aged over 85 had initially been targeted for vaccination within three weeks. About 70,000 will have been vaccinated within this target, but a few thousand will not have been vaccinated.

According to Dr McCauley, this is because some over 85s may have been in hospital while others will have been sick with Covid-19, and were therefore unable to be vaccinated.

Furthermore, some over 85s have yet to be vaccinated because certain GP practices have failed to engage in the vaccination rollout process or to ‘buddy up’ with other practices, said Dr McCauley.

There are more than a dozen such small practices that have failed to engage, he said. The IMO is continuing its efforts to ensure patients from these practices are vaccinated, he added. 

Meanwhile, several GPs have reported difficulties contacting the HSE to discuss vaccine supply issues.

One GP who did not wish to be named described the ordering process and rollout as “farcical, inaccurate and last minute”.

The GP received several hundred more vaccine doses than ordered and described this as “extremely stressful”.

“It is very hard to plan. GP and nurse workload is massively up. I am happy to do the vaccine but am so frustrated that it’s a lottery to see what arrives.

“Basic communication is lacking. We are easily contactable and are accountable. The HSE are uncontactable and unaccountable.”

The IMO has provided members with a HSE contact number to call when problems arise, but many have complained that despite calling the number, no call back is received.

Meanwhile, Monaghan GP Dr Illona Duffy has said that she will not vaccinate the under 70s because of the difficulties she has encountered in vaccinating the over 70s.

“We will not be delivering anymore after this,” said Dr Duffy.

She described the process as “hugely frustrating” and as having a negative impact on other GP work.  

“It involves a massive body of work. There is a huge amount of time and work involved in contacting people, getting consent and giving vaccinations.”

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