Yesterday was a milestone in my life. I had my 2nd jab. For over a year I have been in isolation . The sense of elation, even liberation, is hard to describe, for it also heralds the removal of Covid anxiety which descended on me every time I had to visit hospital because, have no doubt, this is still a killer disease. Now is a really difficult period for our nation. The Taoiseach has signalled hope but we must now all show restraint. Just look at what is happening in France and Germany where the virus threatens to get out of control. Just remember what a disaster the “Meaningful Christmas” turned out to be. So we must make Easter a new beginning. It will be like a rebirth and, like the tending of a new born child, done with great care because it is so fragile. I will still be isolating, still talking to my grand-children through the glass of a large window, greeting people via Zoom, because I still have 2 weeks to go before I am fully immune.
Still, whilst I am, as one of the medically vulnerable, lucky enough to have been vaccinated, my wife, despite being my principal carer, has yet to receive the jab. Hopefully, she won’t have to wait too long. This brings me to the roll-out itself and the government’s decision, after vaccinating health care workers and the medically vulnerable, to switch to an age based strategy. Frankly I didn’t think they had any choice. There were several groups like Teachers, Transport Workers and the Gardai who felt they should be treated as a priority. The truth of the matter is that there is irrefutable science based evidence that age is the single most critical factor in determining the danger posed by being exposed to Covid. If the roll-out goes by age it immediately removes endless arguments about which group should be the most entitled. If adhered to it also should remove any sense that people have privileged access to jabs. The latest example is when a member of staff at the Coombe Hospital took jabs home to give to relatives. Throw that in with the carry-on at the Beacon Hospital and you start to hear talk of Golden Circles. This is deeply unhealthy when people are deeply frayed at the edges after months of a lock-down. Finally and most importantly, it is simple and less likely to go wrong. Now it is down to supply. Will the promise of a million jabs a month put forward by the Health Minister be accurate or 860,000 odd put forward by the Taoiseach to the Fianna Fail parliamentary party meeting be closer to the truth. People deserve and must have transparency.
So a row has erupted between Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and alternate Fine Gael Leader Simon Coveney over the mandatory hotel quarantine. Amongst countries Donnelly wants added to the list are Italy, France and Germany. The Minister stated “ The epidemiological situation right across Europe is very concerning”. Bottom line, we need to keep the variants out. At the moment I side with Donnelly as I recall Fine Gael’s Simon Harris let the Italians in at the start of the pandemic, and I think Simon Coveney should prioritise the nation’s health.
So this Easter whilst we are at the brink of a new dawn, remember those who have died and what better way to honour them than to behave with restraint over this Easter holiday.