PICTURE: Over 85s in Cahir receive first dose of Covid-19 vaccine

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Maria Taylor

Reporter:

Maria Taylor

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Nurse Frances Moloney, Honora O’Connell & her Mum Ellen O’Connell (92) who received her vaccine last week with Dr Anita Halley

Last week the rollout of vaccinations began with group three being given the first dose of vaccinations around the country in vaccination centres as well as GP practices.

In Cahir, 120 over 85s in the community received their first dose in the Primary Care Centre. Dr Anita Halley from the Centre kindly gave me some details of the first day.

“We were very lucky and honoured that we were one of the 84 GP practices chosen to kick-start the distribution of the vaccine to the over 85s. There are 500 practices in the country. There is no way we could have done it without having made the move from the old practice in Market Yard to this new purpose built medical centre.

“Vaccinations will be done in slots of over 85s, then all over 70s then the rest of the groups will follow. Because we are one of the 84 practices chosen we have started early and hope to have all over 70s vaccinated by the middle of May. The second dose of the vaccine is administered two weeks later. We are administering the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that has proven to be more effective in over 70s and after the second dose it has greater than 90% efficacy.

“The vaccine will greatly reduce the risk of hospital admission or death and although it does not totally protect from getting the virus or from transmitting it, it has shown massive reductions in hospital admissions and deaths too. Figures are showing that if you get Covid over 80 without the vaccine 20% of patients have a chance of dying. The vaccine has to be distributed within days of us receiving it and once it has been mixed up it has to be given within six hours.

“Each patient must stay on site for at least 15 minutes to be observed by medical staff so we are grateful to have such a spacious centre and we vaccinated 120 people on the first day. The oldest patient was 96. There was a great sense of hope and excitement as we began meeting patients on the day. There were also smiles all round as many of those who came through our doors had not been out of the house since last March and many dressed up for the occasion. Many old friends were delighted to see each other (albeit very briefly all masked and social distanced) for the first time in many months and there were even two gentlemen in their late 80s who had not seen each other for many years and used to play handball together over 70 years ago. We listened to many wonderful stories while administering the vaccines.

“The next lot of vaccinations (second dose) will take place on St Patrick’s Day. I’m told that there have been promises of bottles of whiskey, brandy and a gentleman even promised a bottle of poitín while one lady said that all she wanted was a strong cup of tea!”

Thank you to Dr Halley along with all the other doctors, nurses and health professionals in Cahir Primary Care Centre who along with their contemporaries in hospitals, medical centres, GP practices and healthcare as a whole, are doing such an amazing job under so much pressure. I hope to see you really soon for my own jab, writes Maria Taylor.