A GP in Co Clare has said her practice does not have enough flu vaccines to meet demand. 

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne, Dr Maire Finn said her practice has so far received 1,100 doses of the vaccine for 14,000 patients.

She said there was huge public buy-in for the first time, which she described as "wonderful", but she said: "We are not able to meet demand."

Dr Finn said supply issues must be dealt with as soon as possible.

She said geographical areas with high rates of Covid-19 should not be prioritised, but rather people who are considered high risk or vulnerable.

Dr Finn said: "It is imperative that 90% of our vulnerable population get the flu vaccine."

She reiterated that the vaccine "does not give people the flu" and explained that it can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to become effective and so during that time people can develop other symptoms.

Earlier, the Chief Clinical Officer with the Health Service Executive said they have ordered and secured 1.4m flu vaccines amid much greater levels of demand.

Colm Henry said that he was confident everyone who needs the vaccine will get it.

'Act like we are in Level 5,' advises ICGP President

Meanwhile, the President of the Irish College of General Practitioners has advised people to act as if we are living in Level 5 of the 'Living with Covid-19' plan.

Dr Mary Favier, a Cork GP who is also a member of the National Public Health Emergency Team, said that GPs are "concerned" about the number of people who are very unwell with Covid-19, as well as this week's increase in cases.

She appealed to people to "really think this weekend. Do one less thing. Act like it is Level 5. If you are meeting people, make sure it is outside".

"If we make this Level 3 count, we can have Christmas," Dr Favier said.

Dr Favier also appealed to healthcare workers to pay attention to how they are feeling, and not to go to work if they are feeling unwell. 

Because healthcare workers are living in the community and the virus is in circulation, she said there is very little that can be done to prevent them from bringing the virus into healthcare settings.

"If healthcare workers have the slightest runny nose or anything out of the ordinary, do not go to work," she pleaded.

Dr Favier said "a huge amount has been learned" about Covid-19 in nursing homes since the start of the pandemic, "particularly infection control and vigilance of staff".

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Separately, the Department of Education has said that no decision has been taken in relation to extending school closures over the mid-term break by one week.

It was responding to a story this morning from the Irish Independent, which states that the Cabinet has discussed the idea of closing schools for an additional week and that a decision to do so is "expected".

Dr Ray Walley, former President of the Irish Medical Organisation, said an extension in the mid-term break for schools "would help" in the vaccination of children for flu.

Speaking on Today with Claire Byrne, he said there was evidence to show that children can be more infectious than adults if they have the flu.

He said the flu vaccine spray for children is deemed to be 83% effective in preventing flu. 

Dr Walley said he was optimistic that there will be enough of the flu vaccine to meet demand this year. 

He also emphasised the importance of people who are vulnerable, over-65, healthcare workers or pregnant women in receiving the flu vaccine.