Where's my vaccine?
It's on the way. It was thought a plan for the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine drawn up by a task force would be published last week, but that was delayed slightly. Even with that delay, it doesn't really impact when we get the vaccine.
How does a delay not affect when we get the vaccine?
Well the delay of a plan to roll it out doesn't push back when you can get the jab. The EU has signed six bulk-buying contracts for the vaccine, from which Ireland will get its supply. Before that supply lands here, they need to be signed off and deemed safe by the European Medicines Agency. They say the latest they will approve the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine by is December 29. The Moderna vaccine, which many GPs seem most excited by, is due to be decided on by mid-January.
Why do GPs have a preference?
They don't really have a preference, but many feel it will be much handier to vaccinate patients using the Moderna vaccine. The Pfizer jab must be administered in two doses, three weeks apart. That means two appointments and a doubling in workload. It also means some GPs feel they should not go at full tilt for the first three weeks of the vaccine roll-out so they don't become overwhelmed when people come looking for their second dose. The Moderna vaccine can be administered in one dose and could be more convenient.
OK. So if we are waiting on these people in Belgium to approve the vaccine, why are our friends north of the Border getting it?
Ah, that old chestnut. What's that doing to us?
Not a lot, but because the UK waved goodbye to EU institutions, their own regulatory body signed off on the vaccine earlier.
And is that why they are getting allergic reactions?
It is possible that if they had done more extensive trials in the UK, issues like an allergy to a vaccine would have shown up before it was publicly available, but the reality is there are always going to be people with allergies and officials there insist the vaccine is safe for most people. For example, most of us can take penicillin for an infection but a minority of people are allergic to it.
So what does Brexit mean for us getting the vaccine?
Everyone says it shouldn't have an impact. It's most likely we will get the Pfizer vaccine first and the company says it has undertaken work to ensure it can continue to supply all its medicines and vaccines in the EU and the UK without being impacted by Brexit. But it is dependent on its suppliers being prepared for Brexit, so it said it has been working to make sure they are ready. They've had four-and-a-half years to get ready.
And how has the North been coping?
They seem to be making steady progress. They are prioritising at-risk groups, so the vaccine is being rolled out in nursing homes first. Hundreds of residents have already received it.
If nursing homes are going to get it first, when can I have it?
The exact details are yet to be published, but it seems nursing homes will go first, then healthcare workers will get it in hospitals. From there, you may have to go to a community hub rather than your GP to get it, like with any other vaccine. Anyone at risk through an underlying condition or work is likely to be prioritised.
Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland