A day of hope with first Offaly nursing home vaccinations

Derek Fanning

Reporter:

Derek Fanning

A thumbs up from Michael Delaney after becoming the first person in an Offaly nursing home to receive the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday morning

A thumbs up from Michael Delaney after becoming the first person in an Offaly nursing home to receive the Pfizer BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on Thursday morning

It was a day of hope, a moment of light, when the first person in an Offaly Nursing Home received a Covid-19 vaccination.

Michael Delaney in Ferbane Care Centre received the Pfizer BioNTEch vaccine from Public Health Nurse Frances Keeley at 10.30 in the morning last Thursday.

Michael is 78 years of age and is originally from Ballycumber.

“I feel very privileged to be the first person in a nursing home in Offaly to receive the vaccine,” he said. “Like everyone else I have been waiting for the vaccine so that life can get back to some kind of normality.”

Staff member Declan Brazil, who has been working in Ferbane Care Centre for 45 years, also received the vaccine on Thursday from Public Health Nurse Siobhan Ryan.

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Both Michael and Declan were given a HSE vaccine information leaflet, along with a more detailed manufacturer's patient information leaflet, before getting the vaccine. After receiving the vaccine they were given a vaccine record card, showing the name and the batch of the vaccine they had received. They will each return for their second dose, to be fully protected, in three weeks.

“It was a real privilege to welcome the vaccine to Offaly,” said Nicola Daly, Director of Nursing in Ferbane Care Centre. “Our residents and staff have endured a very tough 2020, and today's vaccines will ensure that 2021 is off to a brighter start already.”

“This is a good day for Nicola Daly, for the residents of Ferbane Care Centre, for the staff and for all in Midlands Louth Meath Community Healthcare Organisation,” said Sarah McBridge, Chief Officer of Midlands Louth Meath Community Healthcare Organisation. “The vaccine offers the promise of better days ahead for us all. I would particularly like to thank all of the healthcare workers in Midlands Louth Meath who worked tirelessly to make this day possible. While today does offer us hope for a better future, it is important that we continue to persevere with all of the necessary guidelines to keep safe while the vaccine is being rolled out over the coming months. It is important to remember that by wearing a face covering, maintaining social distancing and practising good hand hygiene you're supporting frontline workers to maintain essential health services for the people of Midlands Louth Meath.”

Nicola Daly said Michael Delaney is a friendly, cheerful person who enjoys watching sport on the telly and enjoys a cigarette. She said Declan Brazil is a native of Ferbane and has seen many changes in nursing home care during his 45 years in the job.
Nicola said a vaccine coordinator arrived on Tuesday January 5 to prepare for the vaccinations on Thursday. No one was compelled to take the vaccine and each resident who wished to get the jab signed a consent form.

The home was divided into three sections for Thursday's event. There was an administration area, inoculation area and observation area. After being inoculated each person remains in the observation area for fifteen minutes in case they have an adverse reaction. Nicola said some of the residents suffer from dementia and are sometimes distressed by facemasks, therefore they are not compelled to wear facemasks if it is distressing them.

She said all 47 residents and all 67 staff members were being vaccinated over a two day period by the HSE team. She said she herself had been trained to be a Covid-19 vaccinator. She added that she really hopes the vaccine rollout will be sped up in the coming days and weeks. “The GPs should be allowed to do it. They can do the influenza jab, so they should be allowed to do the Pfizer jab.” The Nursing Director pointed out that seven days after the second dose the recipient will have reached the fully inoculated phase. Ferbane Care Centre is one of six nursing homes run by Windmill, and Nicola was full of praise for Windmill.

Michael Delaney was a labourer in Bord na Móna for many years and his wife Kathleen passed away five years ago. Michael contracted Covid in March and nearly died from it. However, he rallied and has now made a full recovery. Michael became a resident of Ferbane Care Centre and is very happy living there, describing the facility as being “like a hotel.”

Michael told the Tribune that he was very happy to be inoculated as it will mean a freer lifestyle. “If we went to the local shop or to the hospital for a check-up then when we came back to the care centre we had to self-isolate for fourteen days,” he said. “Family members could only visit one at a time. I have six grandchildren and I haven't been able to see them since last spring. Now, because of the Pfizer vaccine, all of that is going to change. It's like being liberated.” Michael added that he knows of several people in the wider Offaly community who got Covid. He said it's been a very tough time but there's now a ray of hope.

Public Health Nurse Siobhan Ryan said there were ten HSE staff on the premises, including two admin, seven nurses and one doctor.

“We were previously the school immunisation team and have been redirected to roll out the vaccine in Laois / Offaly,” she remarked, adding that the Pfizer vaccine is stored in a secure, unnamed location in Dublin and delivered to the Nursing Homes by United Drug.

After delivery the HSE staff then administer it. Siobhan said all the nursing homes in Laois / Offaly will have been inoculated by the end of February. Siobhan is from Tullamore and nurse Frances Keeley is from Mountrath. The nurses pointed out that because it comes in two doses and has to be stored at minus 70 degrees celsius the inoculation is more complex than the other jabs they normally administer. Moderna has said that its vaccine needs to be frozen too, but only at minus 20 degrees celsius, more like a regular freezer.

The HSE said inoculation began in the hospitals in Laois / Offaly just before the Nursing Homes.

“Based on advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee, NIAC,” said a HSE statement, “our first limited stock was given to people in hospital settings, where medical teams can be on call on site. From January 4, the programme began to be rolled out to long term residential care facilities for older people. This will be aligned with further and ongoing deliveries of the vaccine, over a six week rolling programme throughout all 582 nursing homes, public and private, all over the country. Our vaccinator teams will be giving vaccines at each of these locations, making two separate visits, three weeks apart.

“In the later phases of the programme that will focus on the next priority groups, people may be vaccinated through mass vaccination clinics, GP surgeries and community pharmacies. This will be done by qualified and trained healthcare workers, including hospital doctors, community medical officers, nurses, GPs and pharmacists.”