Emotions have been running high in Cork University Hospital in the past week as the vaccine roll-out for staff began, and among the first to receive the vaccine in Cork were, in fact, two Kerry women.
n Tuesday last, December 29, Sinead Horgan took the first of two jabs of the vaccine. Her first thought was ‘relief’ that she and her patients were now safe.
Sinead Horgan née Walsh from Tonreigh, Kielduff, Tralee is the Assistant Director of Nursing in the South/South West Hospital Group. In this role, she is also one of the nurses who will be giving the vaccine, and she deals with vulnerable patients, undertaking COVID testing for pre-operative patients as well as for Cystic Fibrosis patients and at a swabbing station in Cork.
Sinead said that she is delighted that the vaccine has arrived in Ireland and is being rolled out to vulnerable patients and health-care staff.
“I felt relief. A lot of planning has gone into it. This has never before been done. It is the New Year and it [the vaccine] has brought a message of hope,” she said.
Sinead was the first nurse to receive the vaccine, and the second person at Cork University Hospital to get it. Dr Mary Horgan, a fellow Kerry woman and also from Tralee was the first person to receive the vaccine.
After receiving her vaccine, it was straight back to work at the hospital for Sinead who immediately gave the vaccine to other staff.
She said it was a day full of emotion.
“There was joy, happiness, tears, all sorts of emotions,” she said.
“People were giving thanks as if I personally gave them the best present ever.”
Cork University Hospital rolled out almost 500 vaccines in the first three days last week, and this programme will continue across the country in the months to come.
The current vaccine in Ireland is Pfizer BioNTech, but more vaccines will be used in the roll-out in the coming months.
“The excitement is palpable in the hospital, and people are taking it without a question. They know they are protecting their themselves, their family and their patients,” Sinead said.
Sinead added that she had no side-effects from the vaccine and she states that the vaccine is safe given the clinical trials that it went through.
Currently it is only staff at the hospital that are receiving the vaccine, but it will be rolled out further in the coming months. It is also currently confined to staff right on the front-line of the COVID-19 pandemic, and includes porters as well as nursing staff and doctors.
There are 11,000 staff across 10 hospitals in Kerry, Cork, Waterford and South Tipperary in the group.