"Sense of relief as hope for a normal life returns," says Laois GP in NPHET Covid-19 statement

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

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news@leinsterexpress.ie

Second Laois doctor joins RTE's Operation Transformation team

Portarlington GP Dr Sumi Dunne contributes to NPHET and is the Operation Transformation doctor

The start of community vaccination in Ireland marks represents a sense of hope that normal living can return, according to Laois-based GP Dr Sumi Dunne.

The Portarlington based doctor is known nationally as the medical adviser to Operation Transformation leaders on RTÉ. She also contributes to the work being done to battle Covid-19 by assisting the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

Dr Dunne attended the latest NPHET briefing on February 15. She also spoke of the hope vaccination brings in a statement issued by NPHET.

“As of this morning, (February 15), the beginning of the over 85’s cohort began to receive their vaccines at selected GP practices. The level of vaccine confidence and enthusiasm for vaccination in this group has been widely reported, along with a sense of relief as hope for a normal life returns,” said the doctor who practices in the Laois Offaly town.

Dr Lorraine Doherty, National Clinical Director Health Protection HSE - Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), said about 72,500 people aged 85 and over will receive their first vaccine over the coming weeks. She said a total of 116 GP practices will participate in the rollout with an estimated 374 GP’s taking part this week.

She added that nearly 500,000 older people will be inoculated against the coronavirus in the weeks ahead.

“2,491 GP’s spread across 1,373 practices will administer vaccines to approximately 490,000 people over 70 years old, in the weeks ahead,” she said.

Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said vaccination of people aged over 85 in the community is a landmark day. He cautioned that suppression would continue to be a challenge.

"Today marks a significant milestone as we seek to protect the most vulnerable from this pandemic. It is an extraordinary testament to science that less than one year since our first case in Ireland, we are now in the process of rolling out three effective vaccines. The challenge now is to continue to suppress this disease so that as many people as possible can benefit from these vaccines over the coming months,” he said.

Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said people will not be safe until everybody is protected.

“The current patterns remind us of the care we need to take to stay safe. In our workplaces and our colleges especially, we need to take care to stay safe until we are all protected by a vaccine,” he said.

As of Friday, February 12, 265,237 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in Ireland. These included 175,238 people have received their first dose, 89,999 people have received their second dose.