A DONEGAL-based doctor is calling on the HSE to allow flexibility on the Covid-19 vaccination roll-out to cater for people who are unable to leave their homes.
Dr Eoin Dunphy says that a vulnerable group is in danger of being ‘failed by the State’.
The vaccination programme began with people aged over 65 living in long-term residential care facilities and frontline healthcare workers.
The third phase of the programme, which will focus on the over-70s, is to start later this month and will start with people aged 85 and older.
It was expected that the AstraZeneca vaccine – which is easier to transport and store – would be the main vaccine used in the third phase.
On Wednesday, Ireland’s immunisation advisory committee (NIAC) recommended that people aged 70 and over should receive the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna ‘where practicable and timely’. The NIAC recommended that the AstraZeneca vaccine only be used in those aged under 70.
“The intention of the HSE to roll out mRNA vaccines to all the over-70s is laudable,” Dr Dunphy, a GP based at the Mountcharles Health Centre, wrote in a letter to Saturday’s Irish Times.
“However, a subset of vulnerable people will be entirely missed by this programme, those who are unable to leave their houses. These people are entirely dependent on carers. who will not be vaccinated in the near-future and therefore can transmit Covid.
“The mRNA vaccine produced by Pfizer and Moderna are not amendable to transport once opened. The National Immunisation Advistory Committee has clearly stated that any vaccine is better than no vaccine and, that while the Astra Zeneca vaccine lacks evidence for a recommendation, there is no evidence of safety concerns. Crucially, it can be transported more easily than the mRNA vaccines.
“Will the HSE accept flexibility on this issue, or must we see yet another vulnerable group failed by the State?”
Ireland is expected to receive 40,000 vaccine doses per week from Pfizer and 10,000 doses per week from Moderna in the first three months of 2021.Tags: