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At time of writing — I’m honestly sick of using that phrase — we’re heading into (at least) another five weeks of lockdown. I have previously written about the as-yet unquantified consequences of the resultant loneliness,
mental health problems, missed diagnoses, etc, so I won’t labour the point. However, I did interview a doctor some weeks ago who stated that we won’t really know the data on the mortality rates resulting from lockdowns for
another five-to-10 years. By then, of course, it will be a done deal.

But here we are, waiting to be vaccinated, to be able to vaccinate, waiting to be allowed to visit our relatives, waiting to go to the cinema, while we can spend hours packed into a toothpaste tube 10,000 feet in the sky with
recycled air to breathe. Is it any wonder that people are at this point presenting at the counter confused and frustrated due to conflicting information? The strain on personal relationships caused by lockdown is clear,
but so is the confusion caused by mixed messages from ‘above’.

Not to mention the ambiguity. What people need is a clear roadmap out of this rolling series of lockdowns, not for them to be told how great they are doing and what a wonderful sacrifice they are making. Dealing with a
bad situation is one thing, but it’s the uncertainty that hurts even more. Uncertainty on your part as to how many vaccines and of what type you will receive, when you will be vaccinated as a matter of priority.

As reported in this issue, the IPU recently recommended to Government that it should immediately supply community pharmacies with the AstraZeneca vaccine so they can start vaccinating frontline healthcare workers,
among other healthcare workers, in line with the Government’s Vaccine Allocation Strategy. The Union’s Secretary General Darragh O’Loughlin stated:

“If community pharmacists were immediately supplied with the AstraZeneca vaccine, we could start vaccinating frontline healthcare workers who have not yet been vaccinated and other healthcare workers not in direct patient contact, and then GPs could be provided with the mRNA vaccine alternatives and all necessary support to use them for patients 70 years and older.”

I don’t understand what’s so unreasonable or complicated about that proposal but so far, as in other areas, the profession has been greeted with a wall of silence. Of course, there are committees, sub-committees and so on
who have to kick these issues around — never has the saying ‘a camel is a horse designed by a committee’ been more apt. Perhaps Government suffers allergic reactions to proposals that are simple and make basic sense.

I have a nasty feeling of deja vu that harks back to debates over the flu vaccine being administered in pharmacies, and the resistance from certain elements of the healthcare professions to it. It’s a little worrying that the same type of language that was used then — ‘continuity of care’, ‘nobody owns the care of patients’ — is beginning to resurface.

Let’s sincerely hope that when the vaccines do arrive in pharmacies, we don’t see the same type of rhetoric emerge. Dealing with Covid is bigger than all of us.

Pat Kelly, Editor
Pat Kelly, Editor

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Editor, Irish Pharmacist, GreenCross Publishing Ltd,
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