Irish College of General Practitioners welcomes “historic moment” as community-based COVID-19 vaccination of over 70’s begins.

 Major exercise to administer vaccines, beginning with people over 85 in the State not living in residential care.

Embargo 0700 15th February 2021.

The Irish College of General Practitioners, the professional and training body for General Practitioners in Ireland, has welcomed the start of the next phase in the country’s COVID-19 vaccination programme, as GP-led clinics and GP practices begin the process of vaccinating their over 70’s patients around the country.

The Pfizer & Moderna vaccines will be administered by 70% of GPs and Practice Nurses in their own premises. Practices with less than 200 patients over 70 will either buddy with a nearby practice or invite their patients to vaccination centres.

Patients will be contacted directly for appointments by their own GPs.

Dr Nuala O’Connor, the ICGP’s Clinical Lead on COVID-19, said “This is the start of the recovery from COVID-19 for many people, and is an historic moment. GPs look forward to vaccinating this cohort of patients, who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. This is a major exercise in vaccine delivery but we are very confident general practice can deliver safely and effectively.”

She added: “The mRNA vaccines will be delivered next week to over 85’s by GPs in more than 80 practices across 20 counties, and over 300 practices the following week. This is the first step in the three-week programme to deliver first vaccines to over 85’s. Patients are urged to wait to hear from their GP for their appointment time. Each practice will proceed to the 80-84 year age group once those over 85 have been vaccinated as soon as  vaccine supplies are delivered.“

Meanwhile, the public are urged to remain vigilant and obey social distancing rules as Level 5 restrictions continue.

Dr Mary Favier, COVID-19 Adviser to the ICGP, said “While case numbers and hospitalisations are falling, we still have a very high rate of disease in the community and in hospitals, and we must remain vigilant. This vaccine is being deployed carefully and appropriately. This is a time for hope but not for complacency. We cannot afford to let our guard down.”

The ICGP has stressed to the public that GP practices remain open for non-COVID-19 illnesses and urged patients not to ignore any symptoms or unusual conditions they may be worried about. Patients should phone their GP practices with any concerns for an initial phone consultation.

ISSUED BY: Aileen O’Meara, Communications Consultant, Irish College of General Practitioners. Tel. 01 2542984/ 087 2239830.  Email: Twitter @ICGPnews