There are concerns GPs will not participate in the vaccine rollout for 12- to 15-year-olds as an increasing number of patients fail to attend appointments for jabs.
Denis McCauley, chairman of the Irish Medical Organisation’s (IMO) GP Committee, said doctors have seen an increase in “DNAs” – do not attends – as people in younger cohorts sign up to multiple appointments to get vaccinated, often abandoning the slot with the GP.
“It has been a real problem for GPs,” said Dr McCauley
“Young people are putting in three requests, the pharmacy, the GP, the vaccination centre, and they are going to the first one. So if you have 10 appointments and people don’t turn up its quite difficult now to find someone to give it to.
“Before you could make the calls and get people in but now it’s more difficult. GPs are at the point where they have obviously saturated their patient group, they are having DNAs and people aren’t making appointments, so we are slowing down.”
In a letter sent to members on Thursday, the IMO told GPs who are still participating in the age-based vaccination program they “may” choose to do the 12-15 cohort, but that patients will have the option of going to a vaccination clinic.
“It’s unclear how many (GPs) will take it up,” Dr McCauley said.
“Some will, some won’t. The feeling on the ground is that most GPs are finishing because they are having difficulty filling slots and they are having a lot of DNAs.”
Dr McCauley said there is capacity for administering 350,000 vaccines a week in vaccination centres and he “did not expect” there to be demand for GPs to vaccinate younger cohorts.
Earlier this week, Tom O’Dowd, president of the Irish College of General Practitioners, said he had 30 no-shows at a vaccination clinic at his practice.
“At this morning’s Covid vaccine clinic over 30 people didn’t turn up for their second vaccine, despite having a card with time and date,” he tweeted.
“Phone calls went unanswered, others said they were unable to make the date and could they have another. Vaccines and staff time wasted.”
The Irish Independent contacted Mr O’Dowd, who runs a vaccination clinic in southwest Dublin, and he said he was concerned people failing to turn up for their second jab was “widespread” from discussions he had seen on social media.
He said patients attending other clinics stated they had witnessed there had been missing attendees.
Mr O’Dowd said he wanted to remind the public that despite this being summer and people being busy with events and “a million things are going on”, vaccination remained a priority.
“Things like prevention can fall down to the bottom of the list,” Mr O’Dowd said.
“But it’s unwise if you don’t get the second vaccine, you’re not as protected against the virus.”
A HSE spokesperson said it had been monitoring the DNA rates at vaccination centres on an ongoing basis “to ensure that we schedule sufficient appointments, in the knowledge that there will be a certain level of non-attendance in all health services”.
“Over the last number of weeks there has been a DNA rate of 4 to 6pc, which compares favourably with DNA rates in other health services, particularly in summer months,” the spokesperson added.
The HSE said it “strongly encourages” the public, who are registered for the Covid-19 vaccine to attend their appointment.
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