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Ultan Molloy counts the cost of having a christmas guest who was a close contact with a covid-positive person

What a January it has been for many of us. We had a family member home for Christmas, like many other households, who was a close contact of someone with Covid in the days before our Christmas dinner together. They had no symptoms on the day, and yet, as I write this mid-January, we’re still all paying the price for that visit. A different price would have been paid, mind you, if we had uninvited them after finding out that he went to dinner with five friends, from different households, two days before sitting down with us. I’ll say no more lest I irritate myself further.

Christ, I am annoyed with myself. I could have thought it through, and pre-empted this butterfly effect and the associated risks to our extended family. It was after the fact when we found out that they’d been out with five people, one of whom found out on Stephen’s day that their roommate had it. It transpired while being asymptomatic, they had given the gift of Covid to four of the five people they shared said pre-Christmas dinner with, one of whom graced us with their asymptomatic and unwitting presence for the duration of Christmas Day.
I’m lucky that our pharmacy team weren’t overly-reliant on me in the last three weeks, were adaptable enough to cover, and managed well to look after our patients and customers. The non-urgent but important has been left aside, and our pharmacists put in additional shifts with support from helpful locum pharmacists.

One upside has been some intensive parenting time for me with our three girls. I’ve stopped calling it ‘babysitting’ now after being corrected several times. Crèche and pre-school closed has meant we have the pleasure of one another’s company 24/7 at the moment, and sometimes it feels longer than that! They’re great though in fairness, and good craic with it. I read a short book on communicating with toddlers a couple of weeks back, that I’m only sorry I hadn’t read three years ago when our first one was toddling.

Enough sleep, food, down-time, and an allowance for their capacity to process based on their stage of development. Not too much to it really, when one writes it down like that. They have been fed a lot more on foot of my new-found knowledge, and are definitely cut a lot more slack when they’re disengaged or having a meltdown. Relationships and stress levels are better all around, I think. One’s attention is the price that has to be paid for a healthy relationship with them. Maybe it’s not just our kids that this applies to.


The blame game is in full swing in recent weeks for our present Covid numbers, although Donald Trump potentially getting his comeuppance in the coming weeks and months makes for more interesting Twitter content. It is becoming a more challenging place to frequent. Twitter, that is. When I’m not reading about GPs congratulating other GPs on what a fantastic job they’re doing, now that many have finished playing hide-and-seek, the Government-bashing abounds from luminaries such as 19-year-old politics students who appear to have it all figured out.

These profiles without a picture of a person, that may have anything from a rabbit to a robot in their place, present as the most valiant, brave and pointed when it comes to attacking these ignorant buffoons who are running the country. Sure, what would they even know about the needs of rabbits and robots?
I’m all for taking responsibility for one’s actions. In our home, we didn’t follow the HSE guidelines as we should have, and we continue to pay the price.

I’m lucky that our pharmacy team weren’t overly-reliant on me in the last three weeks

Thankfully, no-one has been particularly ill or hospitalised. The other side of it is, the conditions were there for six households to have a meal out together, and us to have a meal with one of them after, so there must be some shared responsibility there when the Government ‘allowed’ it to happen. The Aesop fable of the scorpion and the frog crossing the river comes to mind here, although I’ll embrace my grandmother’s “would you blame a donkey if it kicked you?” for the purposes our situation. Perhaps I am the donkey in this situation.

There would have been uproar of course if families were prevented from having Christmas dinner together. Others, unfortunately, are now paying a much higher price than we are.


Covid vaccines are on the way for pharmacists and our teams we were advised again today. Production and distribution, rather than an administration bottleneck, will be the most likely scenario, one would think. Let’s hope it’s soon, and that those staff members who don’t get the flu vaccine ‘because they never get the flu’ have the good sense to look out for people other than themselves this time around, and get vaccinated for all our sakes.
It is interesting that the seer anti-vaxxers who point out ‘there was no flu going around this year’ fail to make any connection between the nearly 1.2 million vaccinations administered, the social distancing, masks, lockdowns etc, and its absence.

Let’s hope that we can get a reasonable, and predictable, allocation of vaccines when it comes to community pharmacist administration of the Covid vaccines. The upheaval associated with call-backs, cancellations, unpredictable allocations etc, with the flu vaccine shortages was stressful and resource-draining.
It’s not the vaccines available that are going to turn this around for us, of course. Rather, the completed vaccinations. In our communities, we are some way off seeing the tunnel on that one, not to mind the light at the end of it.

With any luck, competitive vaccine administration and enthusiastic uptake, we’ll see the other side of this Covid
pandemic in Ireland by the end of the summer. It doesn’t seem that far away really, when one considers that spring is nearly here. The other good news is that the days are getting longer. In six weeks’ time from when I’m writing this, we’ll be into spring, and in less than that from when you will be reading it. Now, I’m not one for linking my mood to the weather, especially in this country. The practicalities of being able to have toddlers and pre-schoolers outside, rather than tearing the house apart, are very appealing. I’m tired this evening also, and I want the ‘old normal’ back. I want it back very soon. Well, most of it, anyway.

Ultan Molloy
Ultan Molloy

Ultan Molloy is a business and professional performance coach, pharmacist, facilitator and development specialist. He works with other pharmacists, business owners and third parties to develop business strategies.