"We finally have protection from this terrible virus" - Covid-19 vaccination starts in Laois nursing home

Lynda Kiernan


Lynda Kiernan

"We finally have protection from this terrible virus" - Covid vaccination starts in Laois

Sylvia Mathews, 102, from Portarlington, the first person in a Laois nursing home to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

There is "huge relief" amongst the residents and staff of a HSE Laois nursing home with the start of Covid-19 vaccinations this week.

Sylvia Mathews, a 102-year-old woman from Portarlington, was the first person in a Laois nursing home to be vaccinated against COVID-19 a week after the staff at Portlaoise hospital received the first vaccines delivered in the county.

Sylvia’s vaccine was the first Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to be administered by vaccinators at the HSE St Vincent's Community Nursing Unit in Mountmellick on Thursday, January 14.

Diane O’Toole Clinical Nurse Manager 2 (below) is the first staff member to be given the vaccine.

“It’s wonderful to get the vaccine and it’s a privilege to be among the first in Laois to get vaccinated. I wanted to get the vaccine to protect myself and those around me from Covid-19 and it is a huge relief that we finally have protection from this terrible virus. I also want to acknowledge the team on St. Paul’s ward who have support the residents and each other with kindness and compassion," she said.

The HSE has said that each person receiving the vaccine was given a HSE vaccine information leaflet, along with more detailed manufacturer’s patient information leaflet, before getting the vaccine. Afterwards, each person vaccinated was given a vaccine record card, showing the name and batch of the vaccine they have received. They will each return for their second dose, to be fully protected, in three weeks.

Below: CNM 2 Diane O'Toole the first staff member of staff to get the vaccine given by CNM 1 Sheila Slevin.

Sarah McBride is Chief Officer of Midlands Louth Meath Community Healthcare Organisation.

“This is a day of hope for a better future. It is a good day for the residents and staff of St Vincent's Community Nursing Unit in Mountmellick and we are delighted that we can start rolling out the vaccine for our community. I would particularly like to thank all of the healthcare workers in Midlands Louth Meath who worked tirelessly to make this day possible.

"I would also like to thank healthcare staff who have worked so hard at the frontline over the past year to protect our community from Covid-19 and support those who were affected by the virus.

"While today does offer us hope for a better future, it is important that we continue to adhere with all of necessary guidelines to keep safe while the vaccine is being rolled out over the coming weeks and months. It is important to remember that by wearing a face covering, maintaining physical distancing and practising good hand hygiene, you’re supporting frontline workers to maintain essential health services for the people of Midlands Louth Meath.”

Paula Phelan DON from the Community Nursing Home thanked her staff.

“I am so proud to lead the team of staff here in St Vincent’s CNU who have worked above and beyond the call of duty to care for our residents. Having all our residents and staff vaccinated over the last two days by our peer vaccinators has been wonderful and gives us all so much hope for the future.  Every department and staff member have played a part of making the last two days happen.“

The target completion date for all 580 Public, Private and Voluntary Nursing Homes is February 28, although the HSE says that COVID outbreaks may interrupt vaccination. 

The HSE notes that worldwide, vaccines save at least 2-3 million lives each year – and protect many more from crippling and lifelong illnesses. Only COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorised by the European Medicines Agency, having met stringent safety and effectiveness standards, will be used in Ireland. All COVID-19 vaccines will be carefully monitored over time and updated safety data and information will be published and shared by the HSE, on our website and in our printed information materials.

Vaccination in the community by GPs and pharmacists is expected to start by March after the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is approved.