The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has strongly criticised the “illogical” decision to exclude community pharmacies from the campaign to provide Covid-19 booster shots.
The decision for pharmacies not to be involved in the booster rollout was confirmed on Thursday evening, with the IPU saying this will “only serve to slow down the rollout of boosters”.
Pharmacies commenced offering Covid-19 vaccines in July and to date have administered almost 320,000 jabs countrywide.
Kathy Maher, chair of the IPU’s Pharmacy Contractors Committee, said community pharmacies “delivered an immediate impact” administering vaccines last summer, “with many people who would not otherwise have got a vaccine getting it through their local pharmacy, particularly those who could not access a vaccination centre”.
“There are over 1,000 vaccinating pharmacies in Ireland located in towns and villages across the length and breadth of the country.
“As concern grows with rising case numbers, it is imperative that booster vaccines are rolled out rapidly. The failure to include pharmacies will only slow down the rollout,” Ms Maher said.
With the added pressures of flu season, Ms Maher said this added more reason for pharmacists to be able to deliver the flu vaccine and Covid booster shot in tandem.
“Instead, people are expected to book two appointments, go to two locations and receive vaccines on two separate days. Clearly allowing pharmacies to do both would increase uptake of both vaccines."
Ms Maher also said the GP sector was already “overstretched” and relying solely on them and vaccination centres to deliver boosters is "inexplicable”, adding the IPU hopes the Department of Health and HSE “see sense” and reverse the decision.
Currently, if you are living in long-term residential care and aged 65 or over, you will be vaccinated where you live.
If you are aged 80 or over and not living in residential care, you'll be invited for your vaccine by your GP.
Some GPs will refer patients to a vaccination centre, in which you will need an appointment for your booster dose.
You cannot get a booster dose at a walk-in vaccination clinic.
As of October 27, there has been 7,317,176 vaccines administered, with 3,509,451 people receiving both doses.