Saturday, January 09, 2021

IT CAN’T come soon enough. That was the local reaction to news that a vaccine roll-out will begin in Carlow shortly. Covid-19 vaccines are set to be administered in three unnamed local private nursing homes next week and a public residential healthcare facility in Carlow.

The vaccine comes as a welcome relief at a time of record numbers of Covid-19 cases in Carlow and throughout the country.

Testing in Carlow is now being carried out at the county’s new test centre in St Dympna’s Hospital. The Nationalist understands that a small team of nurses is working tirelessly on 12-hour shifts, all the while wearing constricting PPE equipment. They have been regularly testing more than 200 local people each day. There have been calls from the public to show solidarity and appreciation to these workers, whether it’s a beep of a horn as motorists pass or the random acts of kindness many frontline workers experienced during the first wave.

The owner of Beechwood Nursing Home in Leighlinbridge, Eileen Stapleton, described the vaccination programme as a “great step forward”.

“We are thrilled about it,” she said. “It’s just been worrying for everybody, for residents and their families in particular. Keeping Covid out is our big job at the moment.

“It’s a great step forward for everyone. Hopefully, there will be a huge uptake and it’ll be rolled out pretty quickly,” she said.

Manager of St Fiacc’s House in Graiguecullen, Joan Doogue, said: “It can’t come soon enough to see the residents get some quality of life and get rid of that fear that they have been living with for the last ten months. It’s been a huge challenge for everyone. We will be delighted once they are safe.”

The news has given a collective lift to residents and staff.

“Especially with the numbers at the minute – it’s really concerning when you see the numbers are so bad. We have three weeks to wait, please God, and hopefully we should get the first vaccine in,” said Joan.

It is too soon to tell how the vaccine will affect visits between residents and families.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are currently the only ones approved by the EU regulator. The vaccines are delivered in two doses, several weeks apart.

Nationally, it is planned to vaccinate all nursing home residents and staff with the first dose by the end of January. The HSE’s target date for delivering the second doses to nursing and care homes is 28 February.

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