1,800 GPs agree to give swine flu vaccine to at-risk patients
SOME 1,800 GPs have to date agreed to a request from the Health Service Executive (HSE) to give the swine flu vaccine to patients in at-risk groups.
These GPs will begin receiving supplies of the vaccine on Monday.
About 410,000 at-risk patients are due to be vaccinated by these GPs in coming weeks.
Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer at the Department of Health, said yesterday the vaccine would be dispatched to the GPs’ surgeries on a phased basis from today. All GPs should receive supplies within two weeks.
These first vaccine supplies will be for women more than 14 weeks pregnant and those aged six months to 65 years with chronic conditions such as long-term lung, heart, liver and kidney disease, those with MS or other neurological conditions, or those with diabetes, severely obesity, blood disorders or compromised immune systems.
It is expected all patients over 14 will require just one dose of the vaccine. Children under 14 will be offered two doses.
All citizens will ultimately be offered the swine flu vaccine, but once GPs have vaccinated those in the highest risk groups, the vaccine will then be offered to children in general, those aged over 65 and healthcare workers.
Dr Holohan said it would be mid-November before the vaccination programme would target children in general. Their vaccinations will probably be delivered in schools by health service staff.
Dr Kevin Kelleher, assistant national director of health protection with the HSE, said a public information campaign would commence in two weeks’ time advising patients how to get the vaccine. The vaccine is free for everyone.
Just 70 GPs have so far refused to be involved in the vaccination of at-risk groups and about 200 others have sought additional information from the HSE on issues such as indemnity.
Dr Holohan said any clarification GPs needed in relation to the vaccine would be provided. A number of concerns around indemnity had been raised by the Irish Medical Organisation on behalf of GPs and by the insurer Medisec, but he said all issues were clarified. Medisec will be issuing an advisory note to GPs in relation to the programme shortly.