There are a number of vaccines now available for the prevention of Covid-19 infection and these appear to be both safe and effective. One of these is the Pfizer/Biontec vaccine (Comirnaty) which has recently passed all the regulatory and safety checks and is currently being offered in Ireland.
A national vaccination programme is due to begin this week but it is currently only being offered through HSE vaccination teams. This vaccine does not contain any actual virus so it is not possible to get Covid-19 infection from it. Instead, it uses messenger RNA to “teach” our immune cells how to create anti-bodies against the spike proteins on the Covid-19 virus. The spikes on the coronavirus are what allow it to attach to healthy cells and cause disease so destroying these effectively kills the virus.
Side effects from this vaccine include soreness at the injection site, fatigue, headache and fever. These are usually mild and transient. Two vaccinations with 0.3mls of the vaccine at least 21 days apart are required.
The main reason the Pfizer/Biontec vaccine is not currently being made available through GP practices is that it needs to be stored at -80C and therefore special refrigeration units are required. It is likely that other vaccines which are stable at less extreme temperatures will become available over the coming months.
The HSE have decided on a vaccination roll out which will target long term nursing home residents first, then front line health care professionals and then the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions next. Currenly we have not been given a date for when the Covid-19 vaccine will be available through GPs but we will post information on this site as soon as it becomes available.