A deal which will see local GPs and pharmacists administer Covid-19 vaccines to people across Tipperary has been widely welcomed.
Cabinet has signed off on a deal which will see GPs and pharmacists administer the AstraZeneca vaccine once it is approved by the European Medicines Agency
TipperaryLive.ie and its sister titles across the Iconic Newspapers group launched a petition last week backing local pharmacies to deliver the Covid-19 vaccines to our communities, which has been signed by over 1,200 members of the public to date.
Darren Hassett, editor of The Nationalist, described the deal as welcome news and said it would lead to an “expeditious and more effective rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine” across Tipperary.
He added: "This agreement shows the power of the people and The Nationalist's role in representing the views and best interests of communities around the Premier County. We would like to thank all those who supported our #BestShot campaign as we look to end this Covid-19 nightmare."
Cllr Richie Molloy, who is the carers supports manager for the Tipperary branch of Family Carers Ireland, said it makes "perfect sense" for pharmacies to distribute Covid-19 vaccines.
Chairman of the Southern Regional Health Forum and Cashel’s Cllr Declan Burgess was among those who supported the call for pharmacies to be involved in the Covid-19 vaccination programme rollout.
“It is imperative that our national implementation plan for vaccinations against the coronavirus is fully inclusive and effective," said the Fine Gael councillor.
“Common sense needs to come into play big time, and pharmacists are like GPs and they know their patients," he added.
'ACE IN THE HOLE'
A supporter of the #BestShot campaign, Tipperary Town’s Cllr Tony Black said the vaccination programme needs to be rolled out as efficiently as possible. “Local pharmacies could well be our ace in the hole,” he said.
“People have endured and suffered enough throughout this pandemic. We have put our lives on hold for the past 10 months and everyone is eager to get back to normality as soon as is safe and possible.
“People trust our local pharmacists and I for one would have complete faith in them delivering this vital service to our communities. It would take the pressure off the already overwhelmed hospital service and allow people to access the vaccine in their communities,” the Sinn Féin councillor added.
'MORE OPTIONS THE BETTER'
Welcoming the news, Cllr Mark Fitzgerald said it is now important to get vulnerable people in the community vaccinated. “The more options that are there the better,” the Cloonen councillor said.
“People are getting fed up with the negative news around Covid every evening. The focus needs to switch to the rollout of the vaccine. Instead of giving people doom and gloom figures of how many people are passing away and being hospitalised unfortunately, we need to start letting people know how many people are being vaccinated,” he continued.
An optimistic Cllr Fitzgerald said he hopes to see businesses opening in the summer. “The Government has done its best to support businesses. I know it’s not great that places are still closed but we can survive, whereas last summer a lot of businesses either had to tough it out and hope to recover or close up shop,” he said.
“Businesses are not making money, but the supports are helping businesses to survive, pay the bills and make it to the summer.
“If we can get a proper rollout of the vaccine, businesses including pubs will be able to operate from June onwards and operate on a basis where we know we can stay open. I would sooner stay closed until that time of the year and know that once I’m open I’m open. A lot of business owners take the same position.,” added Cllr Fitzgerald, who operates family-run pub The Thatch.
Speaking following the announcement, Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) secretary general Darragh O’Loughlin said there are more than 1,800 community pharmacies located across the country who are “wholeheartedly supportive” of the vaccination campaign and “ready to play a major role” in helping Ireland defeat the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This deal will significantly increase the country’s capacity to deliver Covid-19 vaccinations and, with pharmacists providing vaccination in communities across the country, we will increase ease of access and overall uptake of the vaccine. Pharmacists have been administering flu and other vaccines in Ireland for over a decade, and have all the training and experience required,” Mr O’Loughlin said.
Mr O’Loughlin said pharmacists nationwide stand ready to commence vaccinations as soon as their teams get vaccinated and the vaccines are delivered to them. “Pharmacists, as with anyone giving the vaccine, must be vaccinated themselves in order to do so safely. People using pharmacy services, especially medically vulnerable patients, deserve the assurance that their pharmacist and pharmacy team have been vaccinated. Any further delays in vaccinating pharmacists could severely impact the pace of the national rollout,” he added.