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Vaccination

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A Dublin woman is set to be the Republic of Ireland’s first recipient of the Covid-19 vaccine, using one of the 10,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine that arrived in Ireland on St Stephen's Day.

The first few vaccines will distributed in several hospitals around the country, including Dublin's St James' and Beaumont Hospital as well as Cork University and Galway University Hospitals. These vaccines are the first to be given in the nation-wide rollout of the Pfizer vaccine in hospitals this week. This initial rollout precedes the plan to vaccinate in nursing homes next week.

The first person to get the vaccine this afternoon at around 1.30 pm will be Annie, a 79-year-old grandmother from Dublin. Others who will also receive it today includes an ICU nurse, a Covid ward nurse, an allied health professional and a junior doctor.

Head of the vaccine task force, Professor Brian MacCraith. Has said “This is a momentous day. It is the beginning of a complex process, the beginning of the end of an awful period.”.

With 10,000 vaccines currently in the country and 2 doses required per person, this current batch will be able to vaccinate 5,000 people against the virus. 30,000 more doses are due to arrive today.

Brian MacCraith has also said that the AstraZeneca vaccine will be a ‘game changer once it arrives in Ireland, and that he expects by August, anyone who wants a vaccine will have it.

This initial distribution of the vaccine will be given primarily to front-line healthcare workers and elderly people living in nursing homes.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said this morning: “It’s been the most difficult year for our country. But thanks to the efforts of so many, today we begin to vaccinate the vulnerable and our front-line healthcare workers. Starting with Annie, today we begin a new and hopeful chapter in our fight against Covid-19.”

(Image: Stephen Donnelly Twitter)

The Health Minister posted a photo to his twitter last week and captioned it; "When is a fridge worth photographing? When it's just had Ireland's first Covid vaccines put in it. The first doses have just arrived and many of them are sitting in that very, very cold fridge. We'll begin vaccinating in four days."

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Boots Ireland has today announced that it will be the first pharmacy in Ireland to offer a Travel Vaccination Service for customers travelling to certain long-haul destinations. The service sees Boots Ireland continue to lead the way in the provision of pharmacy-based healthcare support.

The Boots Travel Vaccination Service offers protection against a broad range of diseases or infections, which can be found in many exotic or remote travel destinations. It will be available across 10 Boots stores in Ireland, providing customers with convenient access at a time that suits them, with many Boots pharmacies also offering late night and weekend opening hours. The vaccinations will be administered by specially trained pharmacists.  

The launch comes as a recent CSO study shows people are travelling more than ever before from Ireland, with 556,000 people making trips overseas in February 2019, up 13 percent on the previous year.

Coupled with the increase in international travel, changes in travel patterns include a continuing trend for visiting remote destinations for longer stays.

Visiting exotic holiday destinations like Bali, India and Vietnam can bring travellers into contact with diseases that are rare, or don’t occur in Ireland, meaning vaccinations are recommended ahead of visiting these destinations to ensure protection while travelling. 

The new service is launched at the beginning of World Immunisation Week, starting globally on 24 April, and aims to promote the use of vaccinations to protect people of all ages against diseases.

The Boots Travel Vaccination service is easily accessible through the following steps:

·       Book an appointment in one of the ten selected Boots pharmacies, or online at www.boots.ie/travel-vaccination-service

·       Complete an initial pre-travel consultation with a doctor who will prescribe the recommended vaccinations. This consultation can be completed online.

·       Visit the pharmacy for your vaccination appointment and the vaccinations will be administered by the specially trained Boots pharmacist

The cost of the service will vary depending on the type, and the number of vaccinations required.

Commenting on the new service Caoimhe McAuley, Pharmacy Director Boots Ireland said; “We are very excited to be the first pharmacy in Ireland to offer a travel vaccination service as the interest in visiting exotic and remote destinations is becoming increasingly popular amongst Irish travellers. Protecting the health and wellbeing of our communities is always at the heart of what we do.

"Travelling and exploring new destinations is exciting but can also bring risks when coming into contact with diseases that don’t occur or which are not typically seen in Ireland. Thankfully many of these diseases can be prevented by vaccination. We are delighted to be leading the way in encouraging safer travel with our travel vaccination service."

The travel vaccination service will be available in four of Boots Dublin pharmacies including: Liffey Valley Shopping Centre; St Stephen’s Green SC; Carrickmines and Swords; and across six Boots pharmacies nationwide including: Waterford; Galway Shop Street; Sligo; Killarney; Half Moon Street, Cork; and Childers Retail Park, Limerick.

To find out more or to book your vaccinations simply go into a Boots pharmacy or book online at www.boots.ie/travel-vaccination-service.

Caoimhe McAuley, Pharmacy Director in Boots Ireland shares her top tips to consider when travelling to less developed and exotic long-haul destinations: 

  1. Research your destination in advance

Consider where you are travelling. Vaccinations are recommended if going to some remote and exotic destinations, particularly those in developing countries, to protect from diseases that are rare or don’t occur in Ireland. 

  1. Plan to get vaccinations 6-8 weeks before travelling

Vaccinations take some time to start working, so it’s important to get vaccinated in time, ensuring protection when travelling. Some destinations will require multiple vaccinations to be given at staggered times over a number of weeks, so early consultation is essential.

  1. Pack everything you need to stay safe and well

Having a mini first aid kit with travel essentials like sunscreen, after sun, insect repellent and anti-diarrhoea tablets can help to keep you well and allow you to make the most of your trip.  

  1. Choose your food and water carefully

Even after getting the recommended vaccinations it’s important to follow some practical advice to help keep well. In some of these exotic locations, food and water can cause illness to travellers. Do research on where to eat, choosing food carefully to avoid food poisoning and other infections. Water that is bottled and sealed, is usually safe.

  1. Make sure to stay hydrated

Lack of water can lead to dehydration and heatstroke, particularly when visiting warmer and humid climates. Make sure you stay hydrated, drink lots of water, even when you’re not feeling thirsty, and always carry a bottle. 

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Following the largest ever study into the safety of the HPV vaccination, researchers in Denmark and Sweden have established that the highly contentious vaccination is not linked with 44 chronic diseases.

Three million women, aged between 18 and 44,  took part in the study which sought to examine the potential dangers associated with the vaccination, and aside from a potential increase in the development of celiac disease, researchers did not identify any other concerns.

"This is the most comprehensive study of HPV vaccination safety in adult women to date, "said lead author Dr Anders Hviid, of the Statens Serum Institut, in Denmark.

"It is not unreasonable to expect different safety concerns in adult women compared with young girls, and our study is an important supplement to the safety studies in young girls,” he added of the research which has been published in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

With a decrease in the number of Irish adolescents receiving the vaccination due to concerns over its safety, the researchers argue the merit of considering the likelihood of pre-existing conditions in those who receive it.

"Unmasking of pre-existing conditions at vaccination visits has been described for adolescents and young adults in the context of quadrivalent HPV vaccination; the vaccination visit triggers a work-up of symptoms that later result in a diagnosis,” the authors wrote.

“Unmasking of an underreported disease such as celiac disease in quadrivalent HPV-vaccinated Danish women is a possible explanation for the increased RR."

In recent months, two Ministers advised the Church to exclude themselves from current medical debate after Phonsie Cullinan, the Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, questioned the reliability of the HPV vaccine.

The bishop's remarks were met with consternation by both Health Minister Simon Harris and Independent Alliance Minister of State John Halligan.

Highlighting Bishop Cullinane's lack of medical qualifications, Minister Harris said: “I don’t want to get into a spat with anybody, bishop or no bishop, but at the end of the day the people qualified to give medical advice on vaccinations are doctors and, funnily enough, not bishops.”

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In a groundbreaking development, scientists in New Zealand have discovered they indirectly developed a vaccine which protects against gonorrhoea.

Between 2004 and 2006, approximately one million adolescents were given the vaccine which was originally developed to stop the outbreak of meningitis B.

Interestingly, after analysing data obtained from sexual health clinics, researchers at the University of Auckland established that cases of gonorrhoea had fallen 31 per cent in those who had been vaccinated, thereby proving that the Men B jab provided 'cross protection'.

A report into the findings stated: "Exposure to MeNZB was associated with reduced rates of gonorrhoea diagnosis, the first time a vaccine has shown any protection against gonorrhoea."

"These results provide a proof of principle that can inform prospective vaccine development not only for gonorrhoea but also for meningococcal vaccines."

With the sexually transmitted disease hitting the headlines for its apparent immunity to antibiotics, researchers are keen to highlight the significance of these findings.

"This is the first time a vaccine has shown any protection against gonorrhoea," Dr Helen Petousis-Harris said.

"At the moment, the mechanism behind this immune response is unknown, but our findings could inform future vaccine development." 

The research has been published in the Lancet Journal.

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