Pharmacists should vaccinate the cohort of healthcare workers still waiting for a jab, the head of the Irish Pharmacy Union Darragh O’Loughlin has said in a letter to the HSE’s Dr Colm Henry.
Mr O’Loughlin wrote to Dr Henry to recommend pharmacists be supplied with the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, which will now not be used for the over 70s in the vaccination programme, and for healthcare workers to be vaccinated quickly by pharmacists across the country using this.
“Pharmacies can do vaccines on-site, during the flu season pharmacies do hundreds of thousands of vaccines on-site every year.
"Some pharmacies could also put themselves in a position to vaccinate away from pharmacies, too. We can do vaccination clinics in halls, community centres or go to people’s homes; whatever is required,” Mr O’Loughlin told Morning Ireland.
The CEO of the union said while the pharmacists have had “assurances” they will be involved in the vaccination rollout, they have been given “no concrete plans or dates as of yet”.
The rapid change in plans not to vaccinate the group over 70 with the AstraZeneca vaccine is an opportunity to get it into pharmacies and get it to the healthcare workers, Mr O’Loughlin insisted.
Mr O’Loughlin confirmed that pharmacies would receive the same payment as GPs for administering vaccines, saying: “That part is done, we now need to talk about the operational aspects of how the vaccine will be delivered to pharmacies and what specific additional training pharmacists need to do.”
“This will then enable us to start using the AstraZeneca vaccine as soon as it arrives in the country,” Mr O’Loughlin concluded.