Pharmacies need to be an essential part of COVID-19 Vaccination campaign

  • Pharmacies have capacity to deliver a minimum of 10,000 vaccines per day nationwide

    6 December 2020: Government needs to ensure that Ireland’s nationwide network of community pharmacies plays a central role in the imminent efforts to vaccinate the population against COVID-19. The Irish Pharmacy Union has said its members are available to support this national effort and called on the COVID-19 Vaccine Taskforce to avail of this potential. IPU Secretary General Darragh O’Loughlin said that after many months of heavy restrictions our Government, “owes it to everyone to roll out the vaccine as quickly and seamlessly as possible. A safe and effective vaccine could arrive within weeks, but it will still take time and meticulous planning to ensure a comprehensive vaccination programme is rolled out. “Pharmacists have the training and experience to play a prominent role in the vaccination campaign. Over the past decade, pharmacists have safely administered hundreds of thousands of flu vaccines in Ireland. Pharmacists have the capacity to administer a minimum of 10,000 COVID vaccines per day across the country, which would be an enormous asset to the vaccination programme. “Leading public health experts, such as Dr Gabriel Scally, have suggested that the task to vaccinate the population should not fall solely on GPs due to a concern that, should Ireland’s GPs, who regularly cite capacity constraints, be tasked with this additional responsibility it could lead to delayed diagnoses in other illness areas. Using and resourcing the capacity of pharmacies is a logical way of avoiding this potential problem.” Many other countries, including the US and UK, have already committed to utilising pharmacists in their national rollouts. To date, the Irish Government has not yet confirmed whether people will be able to get vaccinated in local of pharmacies. While pharmacists are keen to support these efforts, Mr O’Loughlin called on the Government to, “avoid the mistakes seen with this year’s flu vaccine. This needs investment in reliable and transparent logistics management for the supply, storage and distribution of the vaccines.” He also added that, “Community pharmacists and pharmacy staff must have prioritised early access to COVID-19 vaccination on the same terms as all other front-line healthcare workers.” In conclusion, Mr O’Loughlin called on the Irish people to unite for one last major effort to support this vaccination campaign. “We have come through so much in 2020 — lockdowns, social isolation and economic challenges. Now 2021 has the potential to be a year of renewal, but first we must continue to fight back against the virus, and soon each us will have an opportunity and a responsibility to support the campaign to rollout the vaccine. Pharmacists will play whatever part is asked of them.”  

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