7th January 2021
Staff Nurse Rosaline O’Brien became the first healthcare professional in the Mid-West to receive the COVID 19 vaccine last Monday January 4th. A County Limerick native, Rosaline has worked in University Hospital Limerick for 40 years, and as a Triage Nurse in the hospital’s Emergency Department for the past 27 years. Speaking after she got the vaccine Rosaline said the arrival of the first batch was hugely encouraging for frontline healthcare workers, who have been challenged as never before throughout the 10 long months of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m working in the ED for 27 years, and I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to get the vaccine. I really wanted to get it, because I think it’s very important to take the vaccine, especially as a healthcare worker. It’s a pandemic, and not just something you can dismiss. It’s been very tough since March. It’s not easy, and it affects everybody all over the hospital. It’s very serious, and I think the only way is to get the vaccine, and move on.”
Administering the vaccine to Rosaline on Monday was Intensive Care consultant Dr Catherine Motherway, who said: “After the weekend, the beginning of 2021, which seemed to be full of doom and gloom, we are now starting to vaccinate locally in Limerick. We’ve already started vaccinating nationally, and this is, we hope, the beginning of the end of this pandemic. We’re still not there. Everybody still needs to be really, really careful.”
Network of peer vaccinators
The first batch of vaccines was delivered to UHL on Monday, and it is planned to administer 300 doses per day to all healthcare workers in UL Hospitals Group, the HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare Organisation and other healthcare settings. A network of peer vaccinators has been trained to administer the vaccines to staff, initially to those directly involved in patient care, including nursing, medical, healthcare assistants, allied health professionals and support staff.
Ms Margaret Gleeson, Chief Director of Nursing and Midwifery, UL Hospitals Group, and chairperson of the Group’s COVID-19 Vaccination Steering Group said they were “delighted to be part of the initial phase of what is the biggest vaccination programme ever undertaken in this country. These vaccines are safe, effective and will offer real protection against a disease that has caused so much illness and death in Ireland and around the world.”
Commenting on the necessary planning for the roll out of the vaccination programme, Yvonne Young, Project Lead, COVID-19 Vaccination Steering Group, said they had been preparing since the approval of the first vaccine in Europe in December: “We are delighted to have arrived at the stage where we can start vaccinating our colleagues. We will be working in phases, starting with staff caring for our most acutely unwell patients in UHL. Staff working in critical care, in the Emergency Department, in the Mid-Western Cancer Centre, in the Acute Medical Assessment Unit and in the Acute Surgical Assessment Unit are being prioritised initially. We look forward to rolling out the vaccine across the Hospitals Group and the Community Healthcare Organisation as delivery of vaccines ramps up in the coming weeks.”