HSE to contact 65 general practices by Monday to arrange awaited vaccine supplies

Cold chain delivery problems for up to 25 general practices

The Health Service Executive (HSE) will be in contact with about 65 smaller general practices to arrange vaccine deliveries next week following significant distribution issues, affecting up to 800 people on their lists in the over 85 age group, HSE Chief Executive, Paul Reid, promised yesterday.

He said they knew it was going to be difficult with smaller practices.

They were also aware that cold chain delivery problems had emerged this week for another 20 to 25 practices. He told the latest HSE briefing that they were working with those practices “as we speak” to arrange distributions that had been missed, or “a volume that had not arrived to the extent that had been expected”.

They were getting “a lot of GP queries this week” but he said the vast majority of over 85s, totalling 72,500, would be vaccinated by the end of the week.

The delivery model for vaccines to GPs was working, he believed, but acknowledged that they had encountered significant issues across a range of GP practices.

They had also finalised arrangements for those who were bed or house bound. The HSE were working on an estimate of between 4,000 and 5,000 people in this category for vaccination with the support of the National Ambulance Services (NAS).

The first two weeks of the three-week delivery cycle for the over 85s had gone “reasonably well”. Reid said they were working with about 1,300 general practices overall. In week one they had worked with 255, in week two 500 and this week, with 542 practices.

He added that AstraZeneca had advised the HSE of vaccine supply interruptions but committed to the ordered volume expected over the three-week period.

The briefing heard that identification of those aged between 16 and 69 in the newly prioritised vaccine allocation group, with very high risk conditions – termed as ‘Cohort 4’ –was underway.

Dr Colm Henry, Chief Clinical Officer said the HSE had written to hospitals to try to identify as many patients as possible in the ‘very high risk multiple disease group’, who were mostly treated through hospital systems and specialists, so they could begin scheduling inoculations for some of this group next week. The HSE would also be contacting patient advocacy organisations to trace eligible patients.

He added that he would be contacting Clinical Directors in hospitals this evening and tomorrow, as well as the GP community to advise them of the plans.

Dr Henry stressed the difficulties faced in identifying this group in the absence of a national disease register.

While Reid also underlined that this was a more complex group, they were working to identify those patients and to establish the most appropriate place for vaccinations to be administered to this medically vulnerable group.

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