The Helix theatre in Dublin is to be the venue for the country’s first clinic to vaccinate thousands of over-70s, the Irish Independent has learned.
The venue, located at Dublin City University, is to be transformed with 50 bays to accommodate the older age group from February 20.
It will cater for around 1,600 patients aged over 85 from 121 practices who cannot be vaccinated in their own GP practices. These practices have too few patients over 85 to warrant offering them a vaccine there.
It is expected to be the first test of how to run one of these clinics for the over-70s and will be followed by similar vaccination centres in Galway and at City Hall in Cork.
A webinar for around 4,000 GPs and GP practice nurses was held last night by the Irish Medical Organisation to outline how the roll-out of vaccinations to the over-70s will be handled.
All over-85s are expected to be vaccinated by the end of the week beginning March 1.
When the over-85s are getting their second dose, GPs will have moved on to younger people within the over-70s age group.
It is expected that each venue will need to have an ambulance on standby in the event of a patient becoming unwell.
Gardaí are also to be involved, along with medical students who will help to direct people.
It is understood the roll-out of the vaccines – beginning with the over-85s – will be confined to GP practices in the first phase.
The entire vaccination programme for the over-70s will run over 12 weeks, which includes giving a second dose.
There are 490,000 people aged over 70 in the country, including 72,000 over-85s.
The roll-out is to start next week and will run over three weeks for the over-85s and work downwards to the other over-70s.
Vaccines will be delivered to 85 practices from next Monday. Some GPs will hold weekend clinics in their practices.
All practices with more than 200 patients aged over 70 on their list will receive deliveries of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.
They will all need to have an observation area where the vaccinated person can stay for around 15 minutes in case of a reaction.
Around 900 practices have more than 200 patients in the over-70 age group.
Most people will receive the vaccine from their own doctors.
In other instances, GP practices will “buddy up” and the patient will go to another surgery or get the vaccine in a designated centre.
The GP practices which will “buddy up” will be those located outside the big cities and which have fewer than 200 patients aged over 70.
Under a deal already agreed, doctors are paid €25 for administering each dose of the vaccine with an additional one-off €10 processing fee per patient – €60 for two doses and €35 for one dose.
GPs are expected to have a reserve list of patients in case a booked patient fails to turn up or there are doses left over.
Some groups of patients will be asked to wait in their cars before being called, to allow for safe spacing. There will be a maximum of eight patients in a waiting area.
Housebound patients are to be subject to special arrangements.
The HSE is to organise a community call-out service for those without transport.