Greetings from week 5 of lockdown 2. Things are going… not great. Cases here in Ireland started plummeting in the first weeks of this new lockdown but now that progress has halted and we are back up to new cases per day in the 300s and 400s. Level 5 restrictions were supposed to bring us down to 100 or fewer cases by the beginning of December but that feels quite out of reach now. Sigh.
But some good news that not only Ireland, but the world, has recently received is about the vaccines. Two of them – one from Pfizer and one from Moderna – have been shown to have effectiveness of 95% and 94.5% respectively. I think the world did a collective fist pump and “YES!” when this news came out. Could it be that something is finally going right and the end to this covid nightmare could be in sight?!
The vaccines now seem to be a question not of “if” but of “when”. For me, the “when” cannot come soon enough but I also think that my “when” will actually not be any time soon. Obviously, health care workers, other front line workers, the elderly and the vulnerable will be given priority. I will fall into the category of “general population” so I’ll be down the line. And I get it. Those being prioritized should be prioritized – doesn’t make me any less anxious about when I’ll be able to get my jab though!
Dr. Anthony Fauci has been quoted as saying that in States “… starting in April, May, June, July — as we get into the late spring and early summer — that people in the so-called general population, who do not have underlying conditions or other designations that would make them priority, could get (shots)”. I hope it will be the same in Ireland, but I worry that people like me will have to wait even longer, well into next summer. I’ve a trip home planned for April/May of next year (replacing my Christmas visit) but can I still go if I’m not vaccinated? And what if I’m away and miss my place in line here in Ireland? Would I, as a US citizen, be able to get vaccinated in the States instead? So many questions!
Now that it looks like we will have at least two approved vaccines by the end of the year, the emphasis switches to logistics and distribution. Ooh boy, this could be rough. Ireland really impressed me when the covid crisis first hit but now I am not filled with a great deal of confidence, especially when it comes to things involving logistics and communication. For feck’s sake, at one point during our second surge people who tested positive for covid were instructed to do their own contact tracing because the government test and trace system was overwhelmed. Utterly ridiculous and shambolic. Though in fairness, things have now improved.
And Ireland’s communication to the public, which started out so strong, has crumbled over the past months. We have often been left guessing (and stressing!) about what the government is going to declare and when they are going to declare it. Tensions and in-fighting between the government officials and health experts is becoming more apparent, which doesn’t instill a lot of confidence to those of us watching. Communication about who gets the vaccine when and exactly how and where, is going to need to be crystal clear from the get-go. The government cannot issue one set of guidelines (with a fancy chart) and then a couple weeks later release a new plan. We need clarity and decisiveness – both of which have been in remarkably short supply in recent weeks.
But Ireland has been known to surprise me and I’m sure the government knows how important it is that they get this right. And the big thing to not lose sight of is that finally, finally, Ireland – and the world – has something that has been far too fleeting since March…