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HSE to launch referral pathway for high risk cohorts who can't be vaccinated by GPs

People in this cohort will be given appointments at vaccination centres.

Image: RollingNews.ie

THE HSE WILL this week put in place a referral system for people in the high risk cohorts 4 and 7 whose GPs are not taking part in that phase of the vaccination programme.

GPs were initially involved in vaccinations for the over 70s and while a large number signed up to continue administering jabs as the programme moved into the very high risk (C4) and high risk cohorts (C7), a small number decided not to.

Some patients, particularly those in Cohort 7, had expressed concern that they may be left behind as there was no clear referral process if their GPs were not administering jabs for these cohorts.

Speaking to The Journal, Cabra-Glasnevin councillor Cat O’Driscoll (33), who has severe asthma and has been cocooning for most of the pandemic, expressed her frustration at the situation.

“I’m working from home and I’m lucky, obviously, that I can work from home and I live alone,” she said. “But now, people are able to go shopping, people are able to get their hair done, and I’m still sitting at home getting my groceries delivered.”

She had called her GP a number of times before being informed by “mistake” last week that she was booked in for a vaccine appointment. O’Driscoll said this had put her “on top of the world”, until she received a call minutes later to say she had been wrongly included in a list of cohort 4 patients and would not receive her jab yet.

Speaking at the HSE briefing today, Damien McCallion, HSE Lead Covid Vaccination Programme, said for people whose GPs are not vaccinating Cohorts 4 and 7, a referral pathway has been developed and will be in place by Saturday.

He said this will allow GPs to refer a patient to a vaccination centre if they are not administering vaccines for these cohorts. McCallion said the intention is to give all of those in the high risk cohorts a vaccine by the end of May or early June.

He encouraged people who are in these cohorts and are eligible to register on the HSE online portal due to their age to go through that process.

Susan McGrady (43), who is also in Cohort 7, told The Journal said she feels a “mixture of relief and hopeful scepticism” after hearing the news of the referral pathway for vaccination.

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Her GP is not currently vaccinating younger people in this cohort, but McGrady was informed this morning she would be added to a list for a mass vaccination centre in Galway.

She was one of a number of people who tweeted under ‘#TheForgottenCohort’ over the past few days in an attempt to draw attention to those in Cohort 7 still waiting on a vaccine appointment.

“It’s not right that we should have to fight as well as having severe and chronic illnesses,” she said.

She said it is “disappointing” for people in this situation and she feels there was a “lack of consideration” for people in the cohort still awaiting vaccination.

About the author:

Orla Dwyer and Michelle Hennessy

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