THE Covid vaccination programme for care home staff and residents got underway this week.
Starting on Monday, vaccines were administered to vaccinators, care home residents and staff in Omagh as the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is rolled out locally.
All care home residents and staff, including supported living centres where the clinical risk is considered to be similar to a care home, will be offered the first Covid-19 vaccine through a mobile vaccination team.
The teams will return 21 days later to administer the second dose of the vaccine, and the aim is that all care homes will be visited prior to Christmas.
Professor Ronan O’Hare, assistant medical director at Omagh hospitals, said there is now “light at the end of the tunnel.”
Speaking outside Granard Residential Nursing Home in Omagh, after residents and the majority of staff received the vaccine, Prof O’Hare added, “The vaccination teams have hit the ground and are running and starting to vaccinate the population.
“It is very important that people realise the significance of this vaccine. We all want our children’s lives to return to normal, to be able to go to school. We want our businesses to operate and we want to be able to visit our loved ones in homes such as this. This has all stopped for the past six to seven months.
“It is a very selfless act to take the vaccine. You are doing this to protect others.
“If you are in any doubt as to the importance of taking this vaccine, I would like to invite you to the South West Acute to see some of the patients who are suffering on the wards.
“This is now a preventable disease. It is essential that you take the vaccine.”
In tandem with the distribution of the vaccine in care homes, health and social care staff will be offered the vaccine in the comings weeks/months as the supply of vaccine is made available.
A vaccination centre is being established at Omagh Leisure Complex for the staff vaccination process but has not yet opened, while awaiting confirmation of the vaccine supply.
Providing advice for the coming months Prof O’Hare said, “Unfortunately, until the vaccine gets rolled out we are going to still have to continue our social distancing and our hygiene.
“Take heed and obey the government advice. However, there is light is at the end of the tunnel and in conjunction with yourselves we can beat this virus and move on.”
Concluding, he appealed to the public to get on board with the vaccination programme.
“The most important message here is to come and get your vaccine,” Prof O’Hare said.