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Cabinet signs off on plan for GPs and pharmacists to vaccinate 1.5 million people

GPs working in mass vaccination centres will be paid €120 per hour under the plan.

LAST UPDATE | 19 Jan 2021

CABINET HAS APPROVED a plan to pay GPs and pharmacists almost €91 million to vaccinate 1.5 million people against Covid-19.

Ministers met this morning to discuss the plan, as well as remuneration for student nurses and midwives on placements in hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The GP plan would cover the administration of the Covid-19 vaccines in GP surgeries, and also in mass vaccination centres further down the line. 

They would be paid €25 for administering each dose of the vaccine with an additional one-off €10 processing fee per patient. That’s €60 for two doses and €35 for one dose.

In total, GPs and pharmacists would be paid €60 per patient under this vaccination plan. GPs working in mass vaccination centres will be paid €120 per hour.

The government says deal with GPs and pharmacists will be seen as “good value for money” despite UK GPs getting paid £12 per jab administered.

At a post-Cabinet briefing this afternoon, the government press secretary said the fees “is not seen as an issue” for government as “it will prove to be very good value” when 1.5 million people are vaccinated and the the country moves towards some normality this summer, he said.

He added that he could not comment on what our UK counterparts are paying their doctors to administer the vaccine.

It is understood that as pharmacists are being utilised in the vaccination rollout programme, they are to be considered as frontline health workers.

In light of this, it is the intention of the government to vaccinate GPs and pharmacists as quickly as possible.

The HSE has been in discussions with qualified groups such as the St. John’s Ambulance about taking part in the vaccination rollout, as well as dentists. In total, 4000 healthcare workers have completed the training to administer the Pfizer vaccine so far.

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) welcomed the finalisation of arrangements for GPs.

It said that these arrangements will allow for General Practice to vaccinate patients in surgeries if the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is approved for use.

This is because of the less onerous storage requirements for this vaccine (the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require very low temperature storage).

Following the Government’s prioritisation strategy, the IMO said that the first people to get invites to receive the vaccine in GP surgeries will be patients over the age of 70, starting with the older patients over 85 and inviting them for vaccine sequentially until all over 70s are vaccinated.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said that 94,000 people have received their first vaccine dose as of last Sunday night, accounting for 1.9% of the population.

71,000 of these were administered to frontline healthcare workers and 23,000 to residents and staff at long-term care facilities. 

Donnelly said the situation is on track for 140,000 vaccine doses to be administered to people by next Sunday.

The minister added that this week “we are also seeing the first of our dose 2 vaccinations happening – so Annie Lynch and those who were among the first in the programme will be getting the second vaccine”.

Annie Lynch was the first person in the Republic of Ireland to receive a Covid-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials. She received her first dose on 29 December.

Statements from various hospital groups – Ireland East, Dublin Midlands, University of Limerick, South/Southwest and Saolta – to confirmed hospitals administering vaccines had no reports of any wasted or discarded doses that were left unused.

There are currently two vaccines approved for use in the EU – Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which has already been approved for use in the UK, will be decided upon for approval by the European Medicines Agency on 29 January.

The Health Minister is trying to secure an early deliver of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Ireland upon its approval. 

The head of the body that regulates medicines in Ireland said last night that a rigorous process is ongoing to monitor the safety of Covid-19 vaccines and that the benefits of these vaccines “continue to outweigh the risks”. 

All reports of suspected side effects from the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine so far were consistent with the mild side effects found during clinical trials, Dr Lorraine Nolan said. 

- Additional reporting by Christina Finn and Gráinne Ní Aodha

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