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'It's brilliant for the town': All over 70s and vulnerable groups set to be fully vaccinated in Sneem

The local health centre in the Kerry town received an unexpectedly large shipment of the Moderna vaccine in February.

File photo. Sneem.
File photo. Sneem.
Image: Shutterstock/meandering images

LOCALS IN THE town of Sneem in Kerry are hailing another “big day” this weekend that will see all its remaining over-70s and vulnerable adults given their second Covid-19 vaccine dose. 

And, while the current restrictions across the country apply as equally in Sneem as in, say, Swords – residents in the Kerry town are looking forward to brighter days ahead with a good chunk of its population fully vaccinated.

It means Sneem is far ahead of other parts of the country when it comes to its most vulnerable residents being protected against Covid-19. 

Early last month, it emerged that all residents aged 70 and over in Sneem received a first vaccine dose after receiving an unexpectedly large supply of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine. 

The Sneem Health Centre has around 240 patients aged 70 and over. On 19 February, the centre received 30 vials of the Moderna vaccine from the HSE.

Each vial of this vaccine contains around ten doses, meaning approximately 300 people could receive their first jab. 

Dr Hernan Ganzo, who runs the health centre, and his staff were aided by qualified members of the community to administer the doses including retired GP Dr Paddy Malone. 

The first round of innoculations in late February were conducted over a “marathon” all-day session. A similar process has been followed ahead of the second round of vaccine doses with the remaining people to get their second doses this weekend. 

Noel O’Sullivan, an organiser with the Sneem Men’s Shed, was one of those who got his second vaccine dose last weekend. 

“Absolutely, it’s a relief,” O’Sullivan told TheJournal. ”Everyone here has been delighted with it. We didn’t expect to get so many.”

O’Sullivan said that it’s been a brilliant boost for the town.

“But it’s a pity it’s not been happening like this in all parts of the country,” he added. 

When the vaccinations were being administered, the Men’s Shed helped to control the flow of traffic from the health centre, while people who received their vaccine spent their 15-minute observation time in nearby Dan Murphy’s Bar.

Its owner Sean O’Sullivan told TheJournal it’s been the most people he’s had in the pub for quite some time. 

“It’s the biggest crowed we had since last March,” he said. “They’re socialising – and social distancing – only without the pints. It’s brilliant for the town.”

Nurses observed the patients in the pub after they’ve received their vaccine to ensure there’s no problems, having a bit of chat with the locals before seeing them off.

The area itself in and around Sneem has an extremely low incidence of Covid-19 in recent weeks.

As of 22 March, the local electoral area of Kenmare had recorded less than five new cases in the previous two weeks. 

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With a rate per 100,000 population of less than five, it contrasts with the national figure of 158.3 cases per 100,000 population over the previous two weeks. 

The 300 or so residents in Sneem who will have received two doses will form part of around 240,000 people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ireland. 

There is still a long way to go before the entire population can be fully protected, and the government expects vaccine supply to ramp up significantly in the next few months. 

While the government’s change to allocation strategy earlier this week has caused consternation among some groups, it caused no change to the over-70s and vulnerable groups becoming fully vaccinated in Sneem. 

The Taoiseach said on Tuesday that the country is on the “final stretch of this terrible journey”.

In Sneem, like everywhere else, they’re hoping that’s the case. 

And, from 12 April, two fully vaccinated people will be able to meet indoors, providing another boost for the town. 

“The weather is starting to pick up a bit here now, so everything’s that bit more positive,” Noel O’Sullivan from the local Men’s Shed added.

“All we’ve been doing is walks now for ages so hopefully things can ease up a bit now in the next few months.”

About the author:

Sean Murray

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