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15 January 2021

COVID-19 vaccination update


Following our
COVID-19 vaccine update on 5 January we write to provide you with more detailed information. If you have any questions, please get in touch in the usual way.

Are primary eye care and audiology teams prioritised for vaccination?

Yes.

The Department of Health (DH) has stated  that healthcare workers in direct patient contact roles “who work in and out of all healthcare settings” are in priority group two.

People in higher risk roles within priority group two are likely to be prioritised – for example, hospital-based clinicians managing COVID-19 patients and those performing aerosol generating procedures (AGPs). The definition of healthcare workers however means that primary eye care and audiology teams will be included as soon higher risk groups are vaccinated.

When will I be offered the vaccine?

FODO Ireland has been in contact with the Department of Health since early December about the vaccination programme.

The HSE has informed FODO Ireland that it is currently devising a vaccination programme for healthcare workers in line with the Government Strategy for Covid 19 Vaccination.

At this stage, the HSE has confirmed it will let you know when it is your turn to get the COVID-19 vaccine through advertising and invitation. Learn more.

What should I do now?

Employers should raise awareness of the vaccination programme and share independent and reliable sources of information with staff. This will give them time to understand the vaccination programme and make an informed choice when offered the vaccine. This will also give you time to support team members who have questions or who might not be able to or wish to undergo vaccination. Access public health advice on the COVID-19 vaccine.

The AOI has also launched a data collection initiative to estimate the number of frontline healthcare workers in primary eye care settings which it then plans to share with the HSE. FODO Ireland always supports a joined-up approach and advises members to take part in the AOI survey. However, if you do not wish to, please contact us and we will ensure information about your practice is passed on to HSE and local coordinators.

Frontline teams should read official guidance and have an opportunity to ask questions. We would recommend using official HSE vaccine guidance. Read HSE guidance on getting the COVID-19 vaccine. You can also read this Department of Health guide to vaccines and FAQs.


Other common questions

Which vaccines are approved?

The EMA recommended the Pfizer/BioTech COVID-19 vaccine for authorisation on 21 December, and the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for authorisation on 6 January. It is likely the EMA will also recommend other vaccines for authorisation in the coming weeks and months.


Why is it taking so long?

The vaccines were only authorised recently, and this is one of the largest ever immunisation programmes undertaken. Once the programme is up and running you will start to see it accelerate.

Many factors influence the scale and pace of the vaccination programme. For example, the Pfizer/BioTech vaccine has to be stored at -70C making rollout more complicated as special refrigeration is required. As other vaccines are approved it is possible there could be a more rapid acceleration of the immunisation programme as transport and storage requirements become easier.


Why have other optometrists and opticians already had the vaccination?

Vaccination capacity will vary locally so timetables might also vary slightly.  In addition, the complex storage requirement for the Pfizer/BioTech vaccine mean that sometimes frontline healthcare workers might be offered vaccination at the last minute where there is unused supply which may otherwise go to waste.


What should I do if I have been missed out/missed the vaccination window through illness?

If employed, raise with your employer as soon as possible.  They should already be aware. Otherwise contact your local vaccination centre explaining the circumstances as soon as possible. If that does not work please contact us.    


Does this mean we can relax infection prevention and control procedures and stop using PPE?

No. Although vaccines are very successful in preventing illness in individuals, we do not yet know the effects on transmissibility and there will always be individuals for whom vaccines are not suitable or not as effective, including staff members. Individuals who are not infected themselves can also still pass on the virus through ineffective hygiene and prevention measures.  

The best way we can protect our colleagues and patients is by continuing to apply rigorous infection prevention and control including triaging patients, remote care, rigorous cleaning between patients, social distancing, using PPE as recommended, staggering use and rigorous cleaning of staff rooms and shared facilities etc.

 

 

 

 

 

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FODO Ireland
FODO Ireland

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