The HSE has revealed remote rural areas are getting several times more vaccine doses than ordered “to minimise” the number of deliveries.
The “bulk deliveries” mean the number of round trips is minimised, the HSE said in a statement when asked to explain how the surprisingly large deliveries were occurring.
The explanation was given after a health centre in the tiny village of Sneem, Co Kerry, received an unexpected delivery of 300 doses of the Moderna vaccine.
The centre's GP, Dr Hernan Ganzo, mobilised a vaccine roll-out at short notice, by encouraging retired GPs, retired nurses and a retired anaesthetist to help ensure the jabs were delivered.
The nearest pub opened as an observation centre and the Men’s Shed controlled traffic on the day of the biggest rollout.
Now half the population of Sneem, and everyone over the age of 70 in the rural hinterland, has been vaccinated, much to the delight of people in south Kerry.
The vaccine is now being rolled out to younger age groups with severe underlying conditions.
Asked how this could occur and whether perhaps there was a computer algorithm or glitch, which added a zero to the original orders, the HSE denied this was the case.
GPs were given an allocation of Moderna vaccine in line with the allocation protocol for rural and remote practices, the HSE said in a statement.
“Given the sheer scale of this logistical operation this protocol is in place to ensure GPs receive a bulk allocation to minimise the amount of deliveries,” it said.
“For example, if a GP practice has 20 patients aged 85 and older, and 30 aged between 80-84, there could be multiple deliveries to one practice.
"With that in mind, it makes sense to deliver a larger batch in one go rather than having to make, what could be up to an eight-hour round trip, in some instances, each time we move into another cohort,” the HSE said.
Meanwhile, the HSE has told GPs that vaccinators may not receive their full orders of Covid-19 vaccines in the coming weeks, due to a new shortage of supply.
It said the number of doses available is slightly less than previously advised, due to an issue with the delivery of Moderna vaccine.
The HSE said the available supply is about 15% less than the required amount to vaccinate the entire over-80 population but said the shortfall will be made up in April.