Today we can see some light at the end of the tunnel. There is a plan to get the covid vaccine out to the public and although this makes me very happy there will no doubt be bumps along the road.
I had planned on writing this post last week but I am glad now I held off as we have had news that the Oxford vaccine has been beset with delays much like the BioNtech and Moderna ones had before it. As such the start date is a little hazier than I thought it would be last Thursday.
Still we hope that the COVID Vaccination Programme in the community can be expected to commence in the coming weeks (around mid-late February). We will hear definitive dates closer to the time and update here.
Initially this vaccine will be available to patients depending on their age only. This is the ruling from the Government and we have no say in this matter.
The first group vaccinated will be patients aged over 85. Then, depending on supply, we will do the various age groups in descending order to 70. We do not have any information in relation to vaccinating people under the age of 70 as of yet other than to be told we are not permitted to vaccinate anyone under this age until further notice (staff members yet to receive vaccine including doctors and nurses are excluded from this restriction).
There is no discretion whatsoever for us to vaccinate on a medical need; COVID is most severe in the elderly. They have the highest mortality and hence are deemed the most in need.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine will be the only vaccine available in GP however the HSE may start to run community mass vaccination clinics with the other vaccines. There will be no facility to choose which vaccine you would prefer as this is being provided fee of charge by the state.
When we have firm dates of vaccine delivery we will run an online booking system for the appointments. We cannot make exceptions, for walk-ins due to the need for social distancing. The online booking service will be to avoid phonecalls, please appreciate that time taken answering phone queries about the vaccine is time we can't be dealing with patients who have other urgent medical conditions. We thank you for your understanding around this.
There is no charge for the vaccine.