Nurses to administer swine flu vaccine as GPs opt out
Public health nurses may have to be drafted in to give the swine flu vaccine in some parts of the country.
The nurses will also be used in Dublin because of a lack of GPs willing to take part in the scheme, it was learned last night.
The news came as health officials here insisted the vaccine is safe after fears were voiced in Germany about it.
It is understood that public health nurses in parts of north Dublin may have to give at-risk patients the jab instead of GPs who are have refused to sign up due to uncertainty over their indemnity cover.
According to the Health Service Executive (HSE), over 150 more GPs have signed up on top of the existing 1,800 who had indicated their intention to give the vaccine to at-risk patients.
The vaccine is being distributed to GPs taking part in the scheme over the next month and full-scale clinics are expected to be provided by doctors in the next fortnight.
It emerged on Monday that some GPs who had not indicated their willingness to take part in the vaccination had received vaccine. The HSE spokesman said that around 12 GPs who received the vaccine contacted the HSE saying they did not want it. The supplies are to be collected by the company distributing the doses.
Meanwhile, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan yesterday insisted the vaccine was safe despite fears expressed by medics in Germany.
The German controversy arose after it emerged that the Pandemrix vaccine, made by Glaxosmithcline, was being given to the general public, while the Baxter vaccine is to be administered to the German government and armed forces.
The Pandemrix vaccine is currently being distributed to GPs in this country although supplies of the Baxter vaccine are also due.
Dr Holohan said the Pandemrix vaccine contains an adjuvant to boost the immune system's response and the Baxter vaccine does not have this ingredient.
However, he said the adjuvants were used in other vaccines also and they had been tested in safety trials.
He added: "We are quite happy that this vaccine, as with all other influenza vaccines, has a very good safety profile."
Both vaccines have been licensed by the European Medicines Agency and the Irish Medicines Board.
Children will need two jabs of Pandemrix spaced three weeks apart, because their immune systems do not respond as well as adults.
Five people have died from swine flu in Ireland, the latest being a man who passed away on Sunday. He had an underlying illness, as had the other victims.