The Government has defended as "very good value" the decision to pay GPs in Ireland more than double their UK counterparts to administer Covid-19 vaccines.
Cabinet yesterday approved a plan to pay GPs and pharmacists almost €91m to vaccinate 1.5 million people in the coming months.
Under the deal, GPs and pharmacists will be paid €25 for administering each dose of the vaccine with an additional one-off €10 processing fee per patient, meaning a GP or pharmacist will get €60 for giving two doses of vaccines and €35 for one dose. GPs working in mass vaccination centres will be paid €120 per hour.
In the UK, the NHS agreed late last year to pay GPs £12.58 (€14) to deliver a dose of the vaccine, which amounts to around €28 for two doses.
The two vaccines approved for use in the Irish market, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, both require two doses as does the easier-to-store Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine that GPs and pharmacists are expected to deliver once regulatory approval is granted.
A Government spokesman said last night that "nobody has any issues with the fees, everyone's happy" and that given the cost to the State and the economy of the pandemic the cost of paying GPs "will prove very good value in the long run". He said: "It will prove good value whenever we see mass vaccine roll-out."
Dr Denis McCauley of the Irish Medical Organisation said: "The fee we agreed is what we agreed for the flu vaccine and there is an extra admin charge until the software is up and running."
Irish Pharmacy Union secretary general Darragh O'Loughlin said: "The fees being paid to pharmacists are reasonable in the context of the cost of delivering the service."
The HSE has been in talks with groups such as the St John Ambulance about taking part in the vaccination rollout.
It comes as Micheál Martin, Leo Varadkar and Eamon Ryan, and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly are to meet representatives of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee today to discuss the rollout of the vaccine so far.
Amid concern at the pace of vaccinations and anger over relatives of staff being vaccinated in Dublin's Coombe Hospital, Mr Donnelly said Ireland was still on target to hit 140,000 vaccinations by Sunday.