CARLOW has one of the highest rates of vaccination against Covid-19 in Ireland. An incredible 98.6% of Carlow adults have received the vaccine, the second-highest figure in the country.
The Nationalist spoke to several Carlow GPs and pharmacists to gain an insight into the high level of compliance.
Two local GP clinics pointed to the comprehensive vaccination network established by the public health teams vaccinating nursing home residents and staff, their own clinics’ innoculation of the over-70s, the opening of the mass vaccination centre in Carlow and latterly the availability in pharmacies.
GP clinics in Carlow had been uniformly proactive in offering the vaccine from early 2021, which had not been the case in every county. The setting-up of a mass vaccination centre in Carlow was also a crucial factor, as opposed to having to travel to a neighbouring county. Notwithstanding that, Kilkenny’s vaccine centre at Cillin Hill, about 16km from the Carlow border, benefited those who got an appointment in Kilkenny or could attend a walk-in clinic. The abundance of vaccine supply in recent months has also met the demand locally.
For the public, getting vaccinated due to health reasons, along with a desire to see society return to normal, were two compelling reasons for getting the jab. Those who had initially been sceptical of the vaccine had reconsidered, as more and more people among their family and friends got the vaccine or had experienced Covid.
One Carlow GP said: “Communities had seen loved ones become very ill or passing away. The vaccine could not have come sooner. It’s been a very good policy to distribute it widely … get it out early and open it up to school-going kids.”
A pharmacist added: “We were finding that people were a little bit nervous coming in, but they had friends, family, doctors encouraging them to do so.”
Opportunities to socialise and travel more freely also incentivised younger people to get the jab.
One local GP said: “There was good messaging from the HSE. There is no big finger being wagged at people. It’s for their benefit … for everyone’s benefit. Pull together. It sets the right tone.”
The location of the county’s mass testing centre has also changed from yesterday (Monday), moving from IT Carlow to the Woodford Dolmen Hotel. The move comes with the conclusion of a six-month contract between IT Carlow and the HSE, according to a HSE spokesperson.
In a statement, the HSE said: ‘All those due to attend appointments this week were informed of the change in advance and planning for the move has been ongoing in recent weeks.’
In extending thanks to IT Carlow for facilitating the operation of the vaccination centre over the last six months, the HSE also records appreciation of its own hard-working staff for their efficient running of the service and in ensuring business as usual continues at the new location.
Looking forward to hosting the service at the Woodford Dolmen Hotel complex, the HSE thanked the people of Carlow for their support to date during the Covid-19 vaccination roll-out.