Anxiety over wait for vaccine as more freedoms for those vaccinated set to be announced

Anxiety over wait for vaccine as more freedoms for those vaccinated set to be announced

AstraZeneca at the HSE Vaccination Centre in the Aviva Stadium.Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Irelan

A CORK GP has reported high anxiety among many patients as they wait to receive their Covid-19 vaccination.

Blackpool GP John Sheehan has seen some people becoming increasingly anxious, particularly those suffering from chronic illness.

“I have had a few patients ring 10 times to make sure I don’t forget them,” said Dr Sheehan. “People just don’t know when this is happening.

“There has been a big increase in the rollout of the vaccine. They hear of others getting the vaccine and feel that they should be getting it too.

“There are so many people out there suffering from a chronic, long-term illness.”

Dr. John Sheehan. Picture Dan Linehan
Dr. John Sheehan. Picture Dan Linehan

Dr Sheehan said the worried calls are understandable given the level of stress people are experiencing, saying: “Some haven’t gone out for months”.

“In reality, these programmes are going to go on for a couple of months and that’s where the frustration comes from,” Dr Sheehan said.

“To many people, vaccinations are seen as the gateway to them getting their lives back.”

Yesterday, the Tánaiste said additional freedoms would be granted to people who were fully vaccinated. Leo Varadkar confirmed the Government is developing a “digital green certificate vaccine pass” for people to prove they have been fully inoculated.

Mr Varadkar said the Government would introduce “additional measures for the fully vaccinated, more freedoms for those who have been vaccinated”.

He also said Ireland’s vaccination programme is set to accelerate in the coming weeks, telling the public: “We’re going to surprise you.”

The vaccination rollout has been beset by problems, with criticisms over its speed, issues with deliveries from manufacturers and controversy over queue skipping.

However, Friday saw 30,500 doses administered, the single-day record since the rollout began.

Ireland is on course to pass the 1m doses mark this week, and Mr Varadkar has promised the rollout will be “accelerated in coming weeks”.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. Pic: Julien Behal
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. Pic: Julien Behal

He said: “We anticipate that, by the middle of May, the majority of adults will have had their first dose, and the over 70s will have been fully vaccinated.

“By the end of June the vast, vast majority, more than 80% of people, will have been offered the first dose.

“We’d hope to do even better than that as well and many will have their second dose too.

“So you know, really the acceleration phase, the ramp-up phase is April, May and June.

“With the addition of the fourth vaccine, the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, that gets a little bit easier still.

“I know a lot of people might feel that they’re never going to get vaccinated. We’re going to surprise you.

“Like I say, most adults will have had their first dose by the end of May — that’s not too far away.”

The more the vaccination programme progresses, the more options the Government will have to reopen the country, he said.

“Lots of people, the most vulnerable, will be fully vaccinated at that point [end of May], and that allows us to make choices about reopening the country that we couldn’t make last week” Mr Varadkar said.

He added that, if the numbers continue to go in the right direction, the Government will examine the reopening of non-essential retail and personal services such as hairdressers and barbers in May.

There were 320 additional confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland yesterday, the Department of Health said.

There were no deaths linked to the coronavirus in the past 24 hours for the first time since late December.

As of April 2, some 923,878 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine had been administered in Ireland.

In total, 655,292 people have received their first dose and 268,586 people have received their second dose.

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