The first doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine will be administered today.
GP teams will be vaccinated at three mass vaccination centres in Dublin, Galway and Portlaoise.
1,800 GPs and practice nurses will be vaccinated, 800 of those will be given the Moderna dose in Dublin’s Phoenix Park, while teams in Galway and Portlaoise plan to administer 500 vaccines each.
Dr Ray Walley, the clinical lead for the Dublin centre, says it’s vital these healthcare staff are prioritised.
Dr Walley said: “Increasingly, general practicioners are involved in the management of Covid patients both in their practices, in maintaining the number of people staying at home and keeping them out of hospitals.”
He added: “We’re opening up more Covid hubs, where presumed Covid and Covid positive patients are assessed, presently 10 or 11 of them are in operation with a proposal to open up another two to three.”
The HSE says it’s an important step and vaccine roll-out plans must be flexible to accommodate unforeseen events.
The mood at the Covid vaccination sites has been described as ‘euphoria by a local GP.
Dublin GP Sinead Cronin got the dose at the Phoenix Park location.
“There’s a massive sense of relief amongst GPs and all our practice nurses and support staff, I think Covid has takent a huge amount away from people,” she said. “The GPs on the frontline have just gone above and beyond at all stages of the pandemic so it’s great to see the euphoria today as people come out after getting their vaccines.”
— Docmait (@docmait) January 16, 2021
Trinity College Dublin Professor of Experimental Immunology, Kingston Mills says Moderna is easier to store than the Pfizer dose.
Prof Mills said: “This vaccine is a little different from a storage point of view to the Pfizer vaccine, it’s stable at -20 degrees rather than -80 so it doesn’t require the really cold temperature for storage.”
“It can keep for up to 30 days at -4 degrees which is the temperature of a fridge, so it’s more suitable for use in GP surgeries and pharmacies so it could be much easier to use.”
Meanwhile, the head of Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccine taskforce has said there will only be a modest impact to the roll-out of the vaccination programme.
Pfizer BioNTech has announced a temporary reduction in supplies as it expands its facilities.
Professor Brian MacCraith told RTÉ News: “After a stressful day it has been very relieving news to hear from Pfizer this evening that the proposed reduction will only apply to one week and that is this coming week.”
He said from next month there would be significant growth in supplies coming into Ireland.