IRELAND’S CHIEF Clinical Officer says Covid-19 restrictions are likely to stay in place for another year before a sufficient proportion of the public are vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Dr Colm Henry has warned the public that they could be living with protective measures like social distancing “for at least a year” while vaccines are rolled out to the wider population.
Speaking on RTE Raidió na Gaeltachta, the Chief Clinical Officer also urged the public to stick to the HSE’s public health guidelines “so we can stop the spread of the virus”.
Dr Henry said: “The answer, and not everyone likes it but it’s the truth ... is that the public in general won’t have protection from Covid-19 for at least a year ... In the meantime, it’s more important than ever to abide by the public health guidance so that we can stop the spread of the virus.
“We’re in the middle of the main wave now ... and we can see the damage that has been wrought.
"The vaccine is coming, and we’ll come out of this if we can stick to the public health guidelines until everyone has been vaccinated.”
He added: "We’re giving out the vaccine as fast as we’re getting it in ... we’re not keeping any back, save a very small amount for the second dose, so the vaccine is going out as fast as it’s coming in, and that’s the truth.”
While Dr Henry acknowledged the importance of reopening schools and giving high priority to teachers when it came to vaccinations, he added the it was crucial to first incoulated frontline healthcare workers.
“It’s important that we can offer protection to healthcare workers, not just to give them protection themselves, but to protect the health services, as we’re losing workers every day who are out because of the virus,"” he said.
The comments come after it emerged Ireland is leading the way in Europe when it comes to the daily vaccination rate.
Despite this positive data, there have been complaints from some healthcare workers that they have so far been overlooked in Ireland’s vaccination plans.