The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) has called for the staff of Ireland’s 1,800 community pharmacies to be vaccinated in the earliest phases of the Covid vaccine roll-out.
The IPU claimed pharmacists are receiving “no Government support” as they face “unprecedented pressure” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Secretary-general of the IPU Darragh O’Loughlin said: “Frontline healthcare workers are listed as one of the very top tiers of the Government’s vaccine allocation plan. Roll-out of the vaccine has already started in hospitals and we have seen numerous images of hospital staff and doctors being vaccinated, which is very positive. However, pharmacies receive over one million visits each week from patients, many of whom are immuno-compromised or have serious underlying conditions, and pharmacists still have no information about how, when and where they might receive the vaccine.
“The pharmacy profession is wholeheartedly behind the Government on this vital national effort and pharmacists have stepped up and made changes to work practices and premises since the pandemic started. However, the lack of any commitment or apparent sense of urgency to protect this vital frontline healthcare service is deeply disappointing. It is leading to increasing worry, frustration and even despair across the profession.”
Mr O’Loughlin concluded by calling for greater clarity on when pharmacies will be vaccinated and also when they will be enabled to administer the vaccine to their own patients.
“Pharmacies are being asked multiple times every day for information about the vaccine. We have no information other than what is in the media and that needs to change. For many patients and communities, pharmacies are now the only providers of accessible in-person face-to-face health care.”
He added: “When others have shut their doors, pharmacies continue to provide services and, as a result, have seen their workload soar with zero support from the Department of Health. Given the risks posed by Covid-19 to vulnerable patients and to pharmacists and their staff, we cannot overstate the importance of pharmacy teams being prioritised for early vaccination.”