THE COVID-19 VACCINE: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

With the Government rollout of the COVID-19 Vaccine underway, we have received a number of queries into our pharmacies. Below are answers to commonly asked questions.

 

Please check back for regular updates.

 

When will the Vaccine become available?

It is hoped that the first vaccines will arrive in Ireland in the first quarter of 2021. The Government has established a high-level taskforce to oversee the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines in Ireland.

 

Who will get the vaccine first?

On 8 December 2020, the Minister for Health announced the allocation strategy for COVID-19 vaccines – see Figure 2.

The strategy prioritises those over the age of 65 living in long-term care facilities, frontline healthcare workers who are in direct patient contact and those aged 70 and over. It is acknowledged that the sequencing of population groups may need to be adapted as more evidence on vaccine effectiveness, safety and suitability becomes available for specific population groups.

This is the provisional order in which people in Ireland will be vaccinated against COVID-19.

  1. People aged 65 years and older who are residents of long-term care facilities (likely to include all staff and residents on site)
  2. Frontline healthcare workers
  3. People aged 70 and older
  4. Other healthcare workers not in direct patient contact
  5. People aged 65-69
  6. Key workers
  7. People aged 18-64 with certain medical conditions
  8. Residents of long-term care facilities aged 18-64
  9. People aged 18-64 living or working in crowded settings
  10. Key workers in essential jobs who cannot avoid a high risk of exposure
  11. People working in education sector
  12. People aged 55-64
  13. Other workers in occupations important to the functioning of society
  14. Other people aged 18-54
  15. People aged under 18 and pregnant women

 

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/39038-provisional-vaccine-allocation-groups/

 

Can I get the Vaccine in my local McCauley Pharmacy? If so, how can I get on the list to be first?

We don’t know the specific details yet but in the recently published National COVID-19 Vaccination Programme: Strategy, vaccination by pharmacist and in pharmacies is included in the plan. Please see an overview of the three phases of the roll-out below

https://assets.gov.ie/108854/babc7d1b-cb10-49db-8dd0-0c7408dea162.pdf

 

Is the vaccine Free? How much does it cost?

Yes, the Minister for Health announced that there should be no barrier to people accessing a vaccine, and the vaccine programme will be available free of charge to everyone  in Ireland.

 

Do children have to get the vaccine?

To date children have not been part of any of the Vaccine trials. As the trials expand to include children, if efficacy and safety is demonstrated then children may well be included in the vaccine program

 

Is it mandatory to get the vaccine?

No, it is not mandatory and WHO (the World Health Organization) has said that persuading people on the merits of a Covid-19 vaccine would be far more effective than trying to make the jabs mandatory. First and foremost, people must be willing to get vaccinated. HSE research tells us that the majority have already decided that they will definitely (45%) or probably (28%) take the vaccine when it is offered to them. Community or herd immunity is reached when a threshold of individuals in a population (more than 70 per cent) has developed protective immune responses through previous infection with the pathogen or through vaccination. So we will need at least 70% of the population vaccinated for our lives to become more like they were pre Covid.

 

What are the side effects of the vaccine?

Side-effects reported to date include injection-site pain, fever, muscle ache and headache

 

Do I have to get a top up on the vaccine?

That will depend on which manufacturer the vaccine comes from currently all but one require a second dose.

 

Do I still have to get the flu vaccine if I get the Covid Vaccine?

Yes, the COVID 19 vaccine will not protect you from the Flu. You will continue to need the flu vaccine for protection from Influenza. The government have now made the flu vaccine available free to all children aged 2-17.

For more information or to book a Flu Vaccine for yourself or child visit https://www.mccauley.ie/flu-vaccine (Limited Availability)

 

Will everything go back to normal after the vaccine?

It is difficult to say what ‘normal’ will look like after this pandemic. For the foreseeable future the current public health measures will remain with us, hand hygiene, cough and sneeze hygiene, social distancing and masks.

 

Can I travel if I don’t get the vaccine?

We don’t know.  It will probably depend on individual country rules and airlines.

 

How has it all happened so quickly?

After all, we know that, normally, it takes about 10 years to develop a new vaccine, to make sure it is safe and effective, and to make enough of it for everyone who needs it. There are several reasons why this timeline has been really cut down for COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

First, there have been enormous levels of investment and scientific and medical research, on a scale never previously seen in vaccine development.

Second, because of the high number of new cases of COVID-19 across the world, the vaccine trials were able to quickly measure differences in disease risk between those who received the vaccine and those who got the placebo or dummy vaccine.

Third, many of the processes which normally take place one after the other in vaccine development have instead been running in parallel. Regulators and those developing the vaccines started their conversations very early in the process so that the regulators were aware of developments and so that the process of authorisation can now be as swift as possible.

None of these factors imply that safety, scientific or ethical integrity have been compromised, or that shortcuts have been taken. People should take great encouragement from these developments and we can be confident that the successful implementation of this programme will mark a significant advance in our approach to this pandemic. However, there are still many uncertainties and barriers to be overcome.

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/36a13-hpra-opening-statement-14-december-2020/

https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/ced2e-covid-19-vaccine-on-the-horizon-statement-from-dr-ronan-glynn-deputy-chief-medical-officer-department-of-health/

 

It is important to get your information on the COVID vaccine from trusted information sources, please ask your pharmacist for information or use the following useful information sites –

 

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/covid-19-vaccines

https://www2.hse.ie/screening-and-vaccinations/covid-19-vaccine/

https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/human-regulatory/overview/public-health-threats/coronavirus-disease-covid-19/treatments-vaccines-covid-19

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/39038-provisional-vaccine-allocation-groups/

 

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