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The IMO representative on the national Covid-19 vaccine group has hailed the development that three mass vaccination centres are being established this weekend for GP teams as “a good news story”.
The centres, which will be established in Dublin, Galway, and Portlaoise, will distribute the first supply of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine.
It is anticipated that 1,800 GPs and nurses will receive the first of two doses of the vaccine over the weekend.
Speaking to the Medical Independent (MI), IMO GP committee member Dr Tadhg Crowley said he understood the frustration of GPs waiting to receive the vaccine, but added that the establishment of the centres is a positive development.
“Back in December if we said by the end of February we’d be well on the road to getting GPs and their clinical teams vaccinated we’d be very happy and that process has started now,” Dr Crowley told MI.
“So we are moving forward there.”
But he also stressed it is important for people to be aware they can still be infected with Covid-19 even after they are vaccinated.
“Remember, once you get the vaccine, it doesn’t mean you are bulletproof. After the first dose of the vaccine, you are 60 per cent covered, then it takes the second to get to the 90 per cent. It doesn’t mean you are bulletproof by any stretch of the imagination, and there is still the potential you can still get Covid.”
Dr Crowley acknowledged the logical challenges with the delivery of such a programme.
“It is going to difficult. It isn’t going to be simple. When you take a vaccine that isn’t as mobile, and is a bit more labile, you are only going to be able to bring it to centres. It is difficult like that. So therefore GPs and clinical staff have to travel. You take that, you take the factor of making sure we have enough vaccines on the supply side, then you take the difficulty of rolling it out to 32 counties at the same time. So it is challenging.”
Dr Crowley expressed the hope that GPs can begin vaccinating patients in the coming months.
“Hopefully by mid-February we will have the AstraZeneca vaccine coming in, which is a vaccine we’ll be giving out to patients,” he said.
“Obviously there will need to be discussions between the various groups – the IMO particularly and the Government – about how that is going to work. I presume that will happen in the next couple of weeks.”