A publicly run nursing home in Co Meath experienced one of the most severe post-vaccination Covid-19 outbreaks across the country during the third wave of the pandemic in January.
The HSE has confirmed that first doses of the vaccine were administered at St Joseph’s Community Nursing Unit on January 12th and 13th, with all eligible residents being vaccinated.
An outbreak of the disease was declared at the nursing home on January 20th with 25 residents at the 50-bed care facility testing positive for Covid-19.
Nine residents died during the course of the outbreak.
The HSE warned that people will not have full immunity following vaccination until after the second dose has been given. Immunity only starts building about two weeks after the first dose.
The second dose was administered on February 2nd to staff and residents at the Trim nursing home who were eligible to receive it. Covid-infected people cannot be vaccinated for 28 days.
“After having both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, most people will have immunity. This means they will be protected against Covid-19,” said a HSE spokesman.
“It takes seven days after the second dose for it work. There is a chance you might still get Covid-19, even if you have the vaccine.”
Details of the outbreak at the Meath home was first reported by the local radio station LMFM.
Vaccinated people are warned to continue following public health guidance and restrictions over the course of their vaccinations and afterwards because of the continued risk of infection.
“Even after the vaccine has had the full effect we still need to be very careful,” the HSE said.
“Even though the vaccine is very good and very effective, it is not perfect. It will work better for some people than for others and even people who are protected against severe disease might catch the virus and spread it.”
The HSE also cautioned that people needed to be careful about the risk of variants of the virus “that may be able to get around the vaccine protection.”
The State's medicines regulator, the Health Products Regulatory Authority, said in its March 4th update on vaccine safety that it had received 17 reports of elderly patients dying after vaccination.
The watchdog found that the patients all had underlying conditions or concurrent illness with a small number testing positive for Covid-19, and that the vaccine did not cause the deaths.
The European Medicines Agency investigated safety concerns around Pfizer-BioNTech's Comirnaty vaccine after deaths were reported in frail elderly people in Norway following vaccination but the review "did not suggest a safety concern," the HPRA said.