GPs urged to retain some vaccines for priority groups

Hospital Groups express anxiety for what lies ahead in November

Family doctors and pharmacists are being urged to retain vaccines for priority groups, as timing issues have resulted in the delayed national delivery of the third batch of flu vaccines, Irish Medical Times reports.

Clearly, there had been much greater uptake this year, Dr Colm Henry, Chief Clinical Officer told the latest Health Executive Service (HSE) briefing this afternoon (Thursday, October 15).

A total of 1.4 million flu vaccines had been ordered for priority groups this season compared to 1.2m last year when the uptake totalled one million.
Drug manufacturers had notified the HSE of delay on the third delivery so there would be a fourth delivery.

The briefing heard from Paul Reid, the Chief Executive of the HSE,that he has been talking to the hospital group CEOs this morning, and lead consultants, and the feedback had been that hospitals were coping but extremely anxious about what lay ahead particularly next month.

He added that they had expressed concerns about the impact of staff absenteesism and of community transmission.

There had been “very few positives” to take from the Covid-19 pandemic but it had afforded the HSE to introduce whole new pathways for patients and care, many changes for delivering healthcare systems, and he was convinced many changes would emerge after Covid-19 that would be better for people. Nonetheless, it was still a significant challenge.

The trend of hospitalisation over the past week had been of concern. This morning, the number of positive Covid-19 cases hospitalised was at 238; with 29 admitted to intensive care (ICU).

Taking 8,500 cases that occurred between September 29 and October 13; some 245 people had been hospitalised and 22 admitted to ICU. Hospitalisation was occurring among all age groups; 25 per cent had been under 35 years; 27 per cent were aged between 35 and 64 years, and 47 per cent were 65 years and older. Covid-19 did impact all age groups, Reid added.

Hospitals were managing at this stage but “very concerned” and “we remain on watch”, according to HSE Chief Operations Officer Anne O’Connor. This week, admissions and emergency department attendances were down on last week and, equally, on the same time last year and was potentially “a lull”.

At the same time, a number of hospitals were seeing significant numbers such as Cork University Hospital which was using surge capacity, the Cork area in general, and hospitals in Limerick and Letterkenny.

She said the average trolley count over the last seven days was 146 and 173 were on trolleys yesterday morning at 8am, significantly lower numbers than last year.

On contact tracing, Reid told the briefing that detected cases resulting in positive Covid-19 tests were being contacted as quickly as possible, first by SMS and followed by a follow-up phone call.

In addition, the HSE was moving towards people self inputting of contact details. He added interoperability between the HSE mobile phone App for close contacts had been put in place with Northern Ireland, and would be introduced and with other countries in October.

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