Vaccines being administered at Tinnypark Nursing Home and Mount Carmel Supported Care Home
The vaccination team visited five local nursing/care homes in Kilkenny this week, where relieved residents and staff were ready to receive the jab.
The programme began at Tinnypark Nursing Home last Thursday, where Director of Nursing Anne Walpole welcomed the vaccinator team, and was among those to receive vaccine. Also among the first to receive the vaccine are hospital staff, GPs and practice staff, ambulance paramedics, public health nurses and others involved in healthcare.
Today (Friday), vaccinators visited Strathmore Lodge in Callan, while yesterday and Wednesday they were in St Columba's Hospital in Thomastown, and on Tuesday, the team was in O’Gorman House in Ballyragget.
The vaccination programme here had been originally due to start at Mount Carmel Supported Care Home, but was brought forward to Tinnypar the previous week. However, staff and residents at Mount Carmel still got their jabs as promised on Monday. Manager at Mount Carmel Fergus Keane said there was a lot of positivity and a real sense of the beginning of the end of the pandemic.
“It was fantastic — it went really smoothly and there were no issues,” he said. “Everyone was looking forward to it, and we had a 100% takeup among staff and people living in Mount Carmel.”
In each of the locations, once all residents and staff have received the jab, the vaccinators can use the remainder in the vials to vaccinate healthcare professionals in the area, so no vaccine goes to waste.
At St Luke’s Hospital on Thursday afternoon, staff nurse Bernadette San Juan became the first person in the hospital to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Bernadette, who works in the hospital’s Covid ward, described herself as ‘honoured and relieved’.
“We’ve been hit particularly hard by Covid here in St Luke’s. This vaccine will hopefully be the light we need to guide us through the next few months,” she said.
Vaccinations continued by appointment through the weekend and are continuing apace this week. As with everyone who receives the vaccine, Bernadette was given a HSE information leaflet, along with more detailed manufacturer’s patient information leaflet, before getting the vaccine.
Afterwards, each person vaccinated was given a vaccine record card, showing the name and batch of the vaccine they have received. hey will each return for their second dose, to be fully protected, in three weeks. Anne Slattery, general manager of St Luke’s Hospital, said the first day was a poignant one for all involved.
“We’re remembering all those who weren’t lucky enough to see today. We release how lucky we are to be vaccinated,” she said.
“The vaccine will now be rolled out to all healthcare staff and vulnerable patients in St Luke’s General Hospital over the coming weeks.”
A second Covid-19 vaccine, from Moderna, has also been approved for use in EU states and is due in Ireland this week. A third, the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab, is expected to be approved by the European medicines regulator in the coming weeks. Assuming this is the case, the Minister for Health has said that up to 700,000 people in the State should be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of March.
Meanwhile, a local TD has said that home-help workers and other caregivers who provide critical support to older and vulnerable people living in their own homes and communities need to be vaccinated as a priority to protect themselves and others. Fine Gael TD John Paul Phelan said the ability to be vaccinated locally and speedily is a great reassurance to frontline providers.
“It would also be reassuring, however, if the HSE could include home-help workers and other caregivers as a priority group for vaccinations,” he said.
“Home-help workers provide essential care and support for vulnerable, older people in their homes with older people often being visited by several different people each day. Many of these caring professionals are also visiting several older and vulnerable people as part of their daily work.”