MUH Director of Nursing Margret McKiernan getting ready to administer the Covid-19 vaccine to healthcare workers. Photo: Daragh MacSweeney/Provision

Rollout gaining speed on Leeside

The first batch of priority Covid-19 vaccinations have been administered on Leeside with city and county provision set to ramp up significantly in the coming weeks.

A spokesperson for the for the South/South West Hospital Group confirmed to the Cork Independent that 2,500 vaccines have now been administered in Cork with more on the way.

“On 29 December, 500 Covid-19 vaccines were delivered to CUH. The South/South West Hospital Group received 2,000 Covid-19 vaccines on New Year’s Day that were administrated across the three Cork City hospitals: South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital, Mercy University Hospital and Cork University Hospital, over the weekend,” said the spokesperson.

They added: “The 2,500 vaccines have been administered. The South/South West Hospital Group will be administering more vaccines across the group this week.”

Responses to the early vaccinations have been positive.

Consultant Medical Oncologist at CUH, Dearbhaile Collins wrote: “Starting the new year by celebrating innovative science and getting a dose of Pfizer synthetic messenger RNA.Thanks to impressive and efficient CUH Cork vaccination roll-out team. Utter champions.”

President of the Royal College of Physicians Ireland and Former Dean of UCC Medical School, Prof. Mary Horgan, wrote: “600 frontline healthcare workers vaccinated at CUH Cork already with vaccination team continuing their great work on New Year’s Day and Saturday. Enthusiasm amongst staff is fantastic. Thanks for bringing us hope for a better 2021.”

However, as nursing homes prepare to receive their first rollout on Monday, issues surrounding the informed consent of residents have arisen.

Sage Advocacy, which provides support and advocacy services to vulnerable adults, older people and healthcare patients nationwide, has called for further clarification around the vaccination process and how it will impact everyday life for nursing home residents, including visitation.

Sarah Lennon, Executive Director of Sage Advocacy, said the organisation welcomes Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly’s commitment to vaccinating all 70,000 residents and staff across Ireland’s 580 nursing homes by the end of January. However, Ms Lennon stressed that it is vitally important that nursing home residents are given the opportunity to consent to receiving the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19.

“It is essential that informed consent to the vaccine is given by residents and they have access to the information, time and support they need to make an informed choice. Residents who lack the decision-making capacity should have the support they need,” said Ms Lennon.

She added: “Residents of congregated settings may also refuse to be vaccinated, so clarity is needed on all of these matters.”

Elsewhere, questions have been asked about the apparent slow start Ireland has made in its vaccination rollout.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1, Prof Corina Butler, Chair of National Immunisation Advisory Committee, said that the rollout is beginning to pick up speed.

“We are off to the planned start. It was deliberately slow to ensure that the technical issues around it go smoothly and to allow for the training, but my goodness it has ramped up very quickly and looks like it is going to go forward at a really accelerated pace,” said Ms Butler.