20 May 2022

Busy Kilkenny pharmacies hopeful of fresh vaccine delivery amid huge level of calls

James Crotty of Crotty's Pharmacy in Bennettsbridge says waiting list closed in many places, but updates will be issued


James Crotty and his wife Susan pictured at the pharmacy in Bennettsbridge earlier this year

Pharmacies in Kilkenny are reporting huge level of calls in recent days following their inclusion as part of the administration of vaccines for the 18-34 cohort.

Such is the demand, many have temporarily closed their waiting lists. They are awaiting word on a fresh arrival of vaccines in the coming days, at which point new bookings will be taken.

James Crotty in Bennettsbridge said the phone was ringing off the hook on Friday and they have been operating a vaccine clinic at capacity ever since.

"We did 20 on Monday, 20 on Tuesday. We did 18 yesterday of the Pfizer. We are halfway through today doing another 18. With the pharmacy obviously we have to run the shop at the same time," he says.

"So to make it safe we only give one dose every 20 minutes of the Pfizer because we have to observe the patient for 15 minutes afterwards, so we can only do one person at a time. So it kind of limits the amount we can do, but we are still getting about 20 done a day.

"With the Janssen vaccine, they come in batches of five - each vial has five doses. When a vial is open it lasts for three hours and you pretty much have to get your five people done in those three hours. With the Pfizer vials, there's six doses in each of those but you have six hours to get those done. So there's a little more leeway there, but at the same time you're working in the pharmacy and you need 20 minutes between everybody just to get them done."

The pharmacy opens each day at 9am and the vaccination clinic gets under way at 10am. Mr Crotty, who previously spoke to the Kilkenny People as part of a campaign to see the rollout delivered through local pharmacies, says it is great to be able to assist.

"We are delighted. It's great for pharmacies to finally be able to help out with the rollout. We've been shouting for this since the start - you did your campaign at the very start to help us out, which was great. It took a while to actually get it into us, but it's great we are actually involved to help people," he said.

"Last Friday, you literally went to hang up one call and you were answering another one. At the moment, it's still ringing, but not as much - maybe every ten minutes. So everybody is still looking to get done.

"Unfortunately we had so many names we had to close off our list for the time being until we know how many more Janssen vaccines we're getting. We should find out middle of next week. When we find out we'll hopefully open up the list for names again to be added to it.

"I know there are a lot of people ringing around town and nearly every pharmacy has the list closed because there are hundreds of people on them. Which is great, but obviously the people who didn't get their name on the list feel like they're in limbo."

His advice is for people  keep an eye on their Facebook page and updates will be issued when the list opens up once again.

"As soon as we know when we are getting the next supply of Janssen vaccine off the HSE we'll be opening it up," says Mr Crotty.

"We are getting 100 doses on Monday coming and we have 100 people booked in for next week. Because we know we're guaranteed to get those 100 doses. So when we find out when we're getting the next 100 doses we'll be booking another 100 people in."

While some have expressed a preference for a particular vaccine, most young people just want whatever they can get, he says. They have things planned - Erasmus, travelling, etc and just want to be safe.

"With the Pfizer we have to go by age, so that's by the HSE rollout which is 30-34 at the moment. With the Janssen it's pretty much first come first served."

There is a four-week gap between Pfizer shots, and at their first dose, people are given the date and time for the second one. With the Janssen, two weeks after the shot the individual is considered fully vaccinated.

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