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Slow supply of flu vaccine putting pressure on Clare GPs

A BUSY GP practice in Ennis was offered just 200 doses for a total of 1,400 patients, The Clare Champion has learned.

Dr Máire Finn, said her practice, which is located on Francis Street, eventually secured an initial delivery of 540 doses and 600 more a fortnight later. “Supply is very poor,” Dr Finn said, “and it’s a nationwide problem. It’s a procurement issue because there is huge demand internationally.”

She said that demand had seen a welcome increase this year, in the face of the pandemic. “There is big public buy in and people really want to get it,” Dr Finn noted. “We are prioritising the over 65s and carers for those who are vulnerable. Normally, we would be running massive vaccination clinics, but we can’t do that in the normal way because of social distancing. The thing is that the flu season continues until March. Normally, the advice is to get the vaccine as soon as possible, but if you get it in November or December, that’s fine.”

Dr Finn said the issue of supply had to be dealt with as soon as possible.

Rather than prioritising geographical areas with high rates of Covid-19, Dr Finn said that people who are considered high risk or vulnerable should be put first.

“It is imperative that 90% of our vulnerable population get the flu vaccine,” she said.

In Shannon, Dr Yvonne Williams said that while the uptake of the vaccine among adults was strong, supply of the flu vaccine is keeping pace with demand. “We don’t have a supply problem right now, and are running clinics for a half day, every day. We have two nurses on sometimes and they’re flat out.”

Dr Williams also urged more parents to get their children vaccinated against flu. “It’s free, there’s no medical or GP visit card required,” she said. “The vaccine is given in a nasal spray which is safe, very easy to administer and very well tolerated and it helps to protect grannies, granddads and parents.”

Under the government’s Winter Plan, the availability of the flu vaccination initiative has been expanded at an estimated cost of €64 million.

The HSE ordered approximately 1.35 million doses of flu vaccine for adults and 600,000 doses for children aged between two and 12 years.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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