Plans to provide flu vaccinations to almost 25,000 primary school and first year pupils next week have been thrown into chaos by the sudden school closures.
upils in over 150 schools should have been receiving their annual free flu vaccination next week.
But parents are now facing an anxious wait to see if their injections will go ahead following the decision to close for an extended half-term break.
The flu injections, normally administered ahead of the winter months, are more critical than ever this year given the impact of Covid-19 on the community.
But the school closure measures, introduced by the Executive this week, could now see children up to the age of 11 exposed to the risk of flu at a time when the authorities are encouraging everyone eligible to have the vaccination in a bid to ease the pressure on the health service.
Authorities are now facing a race against time and a logistical nightmare to deliver the vaccinations as planned.
Dr Alan Stout, chair of the BMA's GP Committee, said it is more important than ever that all eligible children receive the vaccination, but warned that GP surgeries were not in a position to share the workload.
"We all know the importance of the flu vaccination and this year it's critical that as many receive the vaccination as possible," he said.
But with the vaccinations normally delivered to children in schools the plans, which should have been a simple procedure, have now been thrown into chaos.
"I'm aware that the Department for Education and the Department for Health have been urgently meeting on how to make sure those who need the vaccination still receive it," said Dr Stout.
"I haven't heard any formal plans, but it's vital that parents are informed as soon as possible what the arrangements are.
"We have empty schools so that should make it a better environment, but it's still unclear whether schools will be able to open to facilitate this.
"In theory that should make it run smoothly and hopefully this can be arranged on a local basis with assistance from nurses and support teams.
"It will be very much up to local areas as to how it's going to be organised.
"This has to go ahead.
"The Departments are very much aware of that. But GP surgeries are not in any position to help.
"We are already fully extended as it is."
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said it is now working with over 150 schools to try to make arrangements for the vaccinations.
"In light of the recent announcements work is currently under way to minimise disruption to the childhood immunisation programme in Northern Ireland," a spokesperson said.
"There are 158 schools (approx. 24,200 children) scheduled to receive the flu vaccine next week.
"The Public Health Agency is working with the school nursing team and Education Authority to clarify arrangements.
"Parents and guardians of children who are affected will be contacted in due course."