I hope you have had the chance over the holiday season to recharge your batteries and reconnect with friends and loved ones. It was amusing to watch on 18 December when the inter-county lockdown was lifted, as thousands of cars hit the motorways like Sonic the Hedgehog picking up bonus rings.
At time of writing, plans are frantically being made to roll-out the Covid-19 vaccine, initially to the more vulnerable cohorts of the population. The chit-chat suggests that perhaps by spring or even earlier, the vaccine will be widely available to anybody else who chooses to take it.
Week-by-week, the narrative is changing, although in a subtle way. The words ‘hope’ and ‘optimistic’ are edging their way tentatively into conversations, as is evidenced by some of the columns in the pages of this issue. People have begun to consider the positives that we can take from the pandemic, such as technical advances like Healthmail, and while the bureaucratic arms of the HSE showed surprising speed and flexibility in reacting to the outbreak, one can only hope that they do not revert to form in 2021 and demonstrate a supertanker-like speed of manoeuvrability.
Another reason for optimism this year is the confirmation that pharmacists will rightly be a central part of the Covid vaccination programme. However, as the IPU was at pains to point out, pharmacists must also be integral to the planning of the vaccination programme. Neglecting to do so would be akin to having Alex Ferguson in the dressing room and refusing to ask his opinion on how the team should be set up.
Staying with the football analogy, as one Roy Maurice Keane famously said, “if you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail”. It’s actually a re-quote from Benjamin Franklin, but hey, let’s keep it Irish. If the health authorities repeat the cock-up around distribution of the flu vaccine when it comes to the Covid jab, that would be almost unforgivable. As Churchill said when he repeated the words of poet-philosopher George Santayana, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Anyway, the signs are promising and if last year proved anything, it’s how important the pharmacy profession is to the wellbeing of the nation, either in sickness or in health. Let’s hope certain people don’t have short memories in that regard.
Let’s also hope that 2021 sees the return of face-to-face conferences. Zoom meetings are all very well, but as Terry Maguire points out in this issue, there’s something very appealing at this stage about a few collegiate pints or glasses of wine and a hotel breakfast, not to mention a bit of post-conference scuttlebutt at the bar.
Zoom and other tools of its kind serve a purpose, but I predict record attendance rates for any face-to-face meetings in the year ahead.