“Massive” reaction in 18-34 group to jab announcement
The announcement this morning by Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, on the update to the Covid-19 Vaccination Programme has seen floods of calls to pharmacies around County Cavan.
“Our phones have not stopped,” Paul McDaid of McDaid's Pharmacy says of the situation. “It's from right across the 18 to 34 year age group. You can hear them in the background, I have five lines in the shop and they have all been ringing non-stop since this morning.”
As of next Monday, July 5 people aged 18 to 34 can choose to get vaccinated with the single-shot Janssen from their local pharmacy. To date 60,000 doses have been allocated to 700 participating pharmacies. It is estimated that 7,000 of those doses have been used for people aged 50 or over so far.
Paul described the public reaction to the minister's announcement as “massive”, saying they are completely booked out. He hopes they will be able to offer more jabs soon.
The pharmacy was recently issued 50 doses, and they have already administered about half of this allocation. The opening up to the younger cohort saw the remaining vaccine appointments snapped up: “We had to scramble to get things together. We got it online at about 9:10 this morning. Most of the bookings were sold out by 9:30.
“We will have more vaccines coming in, we just don't know when. We have made contact with the HSE today, but we are not getting any answers on that, but we are hoping next week,” he said.
Minister Donnelly's announcement on Morning Ireland this morning came as somewhat of a surprise to the local pharmacist: “We weren't told, the media told us. We didn't get any information.
“I rang the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) this morning. They were also scrambling to get things together, there was a serious lack of communication. There was no warning or no planning,” Paul says.
He says the method of the announcement has put a lot of pressure on pharmacists: “A lot of pharmacies got 50 doses of the Jansen and have used those up in the over-50 category. We have colleagues who have no vaccines left, but are inundated with calls looking for bookings.
"All we can do is direct people to our online inquiry form, booking in people making sure that the ones who need to be prioritised are prioritised. At the moment all we are doing is answering calls, taking names, making lists and waiting for an announcement on when the vaccines will be delivered. It's been a difficult day.”
The HSE say that to arrange a vaccine, people aged 18-34 can contact a participating pharmacy to book an appointment.
Tony McEntee, Chief Executive of McCauley Health and Beauty Pharmacy welcomed Minister Donnelly’s announcement: “McCauley is fully prepared to provide the vaccination service for all vaccine types, in support of the HSE, and has a pre-registration facility available to members of the public on our website.”
Vaccination centres will begin vaccinating younger age groups from mid-July in line with the current age-based rollout plan. Vaccination centres will administer AstraZeneca and Janssen, as well as continuing to administer mRNA vaccines.
Online registration for people aged 30-34 year olds through vaccination centres will open next week, Friday, July 9, in the same way as the older age groups have been.
People can register online at www.hse.ie for a vaccination centre clinic with a Personal Public Service (PPS) number, Eircode, a mobile phone number and an email address. Alternatively, people can call HSELive on 1800 700 700 to register on the phone.