Vaccination must be key priority

 

Sir, – The dilatory manner in which Covid-19 vaccines are being rolled out currently in Ireland is unacceptable. While countries like Israel, with twice the population of Ireland, will complete their entire vaccination programme in full by March 2021.

Ministers are posing for photos with our vaccines in storage and hailing a pathetic 17,000 vaccinations this week as a huge success. There has been no formal communication with GPs about the vaccine delivery and roll-out strategy, many nursing homes have still not received the vaccine consent forms, and most vaccines are being administered on a Monday-Friday, 9am to 5pm basis. I would be delighted to administer vaccinations in the evenings or weekends, as would the vast majority of my colleagues, in order to hasten our defeat of this virus and our return to some semblance of normality.

The Government has asked much of the Irish people during this pandemic and now we are asking them to deliver a rapid and efficient roll-out of the vaccines, as a matter of absolute urgency.

A total of 17,000 vaccinations in a week is simply not good enough. – Is mise,

Dr DAVID J TANSEY,

(Specialist Registrar in

Endocrinology,

Diabetes Mellitus

and General Internal

Medicine,

Sandymount,

Dublin 4.

Sir, – I would like more transparency from Nphet as to the roll-out of the vaccine for frontline healthcare workers and care-home staff, who are the logical top priority group for receiving the vaccine first. We are not getting enough information about the roll-out plan.

Not only have healthcare staff worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic at risk to their health, but they are needed in full force to uphold a system vulnerable to collapse if Covid numbers increase at current levels of infection.

Will the Dáil please come back from its unnecessarily long Christmas break and do what it has been paid to do and lead the way! – Yours, etc,

CYNTHIA

CARROLL,

Newport,

Co Tipperary.

Sir, – The report in The Irish Times (News, January 2nd) that the Government may be considering deferring the administration of the prescribed second dose of the Covid-19 Vaccine from 21 days to 12 weeks is a cause for concern.

In authorising the use of the vaccine, the European Medicines Agency had regard to the results of the clinical trial carried out by the manufacturers.These trials involved the administration of the second dose of the vaccine 21 days after the administration of the first dose. There have been no trials of the vaccine with a gap of 12 weeks between the administration of the doses. Any move to extend the gap to 12 weeks would not, therefore, be in compliance with the terms of the marketing authorisation.

Before any changes are made to the protocols for the administration of the vaccine, the Government should first await the approval of the European Medicines Agency to any such changes. – Yours, etc,

JOHN GILLEN,

Skerries,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – It seems probable that the arrival of vaccines will represent an advance in the war against Covid-19. They may prove to be a high-tech weapon beside the low-tech behavioural armaments which we have been relying on over the last 10 months, but which will continue to be essential.

I am at a loss to understand why the Government and public health authorities continue to created the false impression (which the media blindly promotes) that we can hope that vaccines will have an early material impact. It will be months – probably towards the end of 2021, and likely later – before we can hope to be in a position where a sustained relaxation of restrictions is a realistic prospect.

Statements which advise that the vaccination programme will not have any impact in the next two weeks are simply misleading, as they imply a significant improvement might follow soon thereafter.

The brutal fact is that, all going well, it will be late February before the first priority groups have been vaccinated, and while this represents a real step forward, it is unlikely to enable any material relaxation of restrictions.

At the end of February, we will still be months away from vaccinating enough of the population to make a material difference.

Does anyone really believe, no matter how much we would wish it to be true, that it would be prudent for the authorities to ease restrictions in advance of St Patrick’s Day or even Easter? Surely it would be better to set realistic expectations, even if they are disappointing, rather than continuing to create expectations which cannot be achieved. – Yours, etc,

PAUL DUGGAN,

Rathmines,

Dublin 6.