By Cate McCurry, PA
The chief medical officer has urged those who have been vaccinated to “get back out there” once restrictions begin to ease from May 10th.
Dr Tony Holohan said the Covid-19 vaccines have given people most at risk of the virus an opportunity to regain many freedoms that were taken in the last year.
In an open letter to those who have been vaccinated, Dr Holohan said people can have faith that the vaccines work.
Dr Holohan said that the pandemic has dealt every person in Ireland an “unfair hand”, in many different and diverse ways.
“Everyone has made difficult sacrifices, everyone has had one of the most uniquely challenging years of their lives. In that sense, we are all in this together,” Dr Holohan added.
“However, there are some of us who were faced with more difficulties than others: firstly, those of you who have been bereaved by this disease and have experienced loss in a way that has been cruelly constrained by this disease and the restrictions it imposes on us.
“I would like to express my sincere condolences to each of you.
“There are also those of you who at the outset were told you were medically vulnerable to the severe effects of this virus, either due to your underlying condition or your age.
“This pandemic has asked significant sacrifices from you and you have risen to this unprecedented challenge.
Many of those most at risk of the worst effects of #COVID19 have received the first dose of vaccine, or are fully vaccinated.
— Department of Health (@roinnslainte) May 1, 2021
“By protecting yourselves and staying at home, you also undoubtedly helped to suppress this disease which protected other people and saved many lives.”
Dr Holohan said Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccination programme offers “great hope”.
He said that as more people are vaccinated, the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) are in a position to recommend increases in social opportunities, including family visits, personal services, non-essential retail and a return to religious services, in a safe and controlled manner.
“Those of you who are vaccinated thus far are mostly those we recommended to cocoon at the outset of the pandemic,” Dr Holohan added.
“You can now get back out there and restart many things you used to do, once restrictions ease from May 10.
“That might be visiting the seaside, a trip to a museum, a visit with a friend, or a trip to see your grandchildren at long last.
“It’s important that you look out for the public health advice that is relevant to you and to plan to do it safely – but it’s important to get on and do it.
“I know that those of you who remained indoors, cut social contacts and continue to do everything to protect yourself from Covid-19 may be anxious at the idea of reopening your social circle, even in a safe and controlled way and even though you have been vaccinated.
“While this anxiety is understandable, you can have confidence in your vaccine, no matter which one you received. And you can have confidence that the simple measures we recommend really do help to reduce your risk of picking up this disease.”
💉 As of April 30th, 2021, 1,572,779 doses of #COVID19 vaccine have been administered in Ireland.
— Department of Health (@roinnslainte) May 2, 2021
He urged those who are anxious about the reopening of society to risk-assess their choice and to walk away from unsafe environments.
“Now is the time to move forward, to go outdoors and to see one another again,” he added.
“As spring turns to summer, we should all take advantage of the bright evenings and warmer weather.
“Exercising outdoors is an important tool to protect our mental and physical health.”
On Sunday there were 127 Covid-19 patients in hospital, of whom 41 were in intensive care. A further six people were admitted to hospital in the past 24 hours.
As of April 30th, 1,572,779 doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administered in Ireland.
Some 1,130,958 people have now received their first dose, and 441,821 people have received their second dose.