Q&A: Do we need to worry about Covid?

Q&A: Do we need to worry about Covid?

Between August 21 and September 17, there were 31 deaths linked to Covid-19 in Ireland, a stark reminder that many people are still vulnerable.

What is new with Covid-19 vaccines?

From early October the HSE will start using new bivalent vaccines which target Omicron and original strain of the virus. They have advised people however not to wait if they are already eligible.

The flu vaccine campaign will also kick off in October, mainly through GP practices and pharmacies.

Do we really need to worry about Covid this winter?

Yes, unfortunately. However, vaccines and greater understanding of how to reduce transmission including with ventilation strategies offer better support than before.

Hospitals are treating 328 patients with Covid-19, a number which has been rising for two weeks, and now includes 16 in intensive care units, Between August 21 and September 17 there were 31 deaths from Covid-19.

How can I get boosted?

All over-50s, pregnant women (from 16 weeks gestation onwards), healthcare workers, and immunocompromised people aged 12 upwards can get boosted now.

Appointments can be booked through the HSE website for centres including on North Main Street in Cork. Some centres still offer walk-in booster clinics including Waterford Institute of Technology Arena.

Many GPs and pharmacies are also offering boosters and can be booked direct.

Children aged five to eleven, who had their first two shots, are being called for a booster shot.

Which vaccines are used for boosters?

People under 29 will be offered a Pfizer bivalent vaccine (Comirnaty® BA.1 or Comirnaty® BA.4-5). People aged 30 and over will be offered either a Pfizer bivalent vaccine or that from Moderna (Spikevax® BA.1) How can I get tested?

Antigen tests can still be bought through many supermarkets and pharmacies, although anecdotal evidence suggests some outlets have not yet re-stocked for the winter.

PCR testing is still available for certain groups. This includes over 55s who are not boosted, anyone with a high-risk medical condition, pregnant women, healthcare workers, and people caring for or living with immunocompromised people.

What are the isolation rules now?

The HSE advises people with even mild symptoms to stay in their room and isolate until 48 hours after the symptoms are mostly or fully gone.

They should wear a face mask when around other people. This advice applies to vaccinated and non-vaccinated people.

What is happening in the rest of Europe?

Earlier this month the European Commission advised governments to continue vaccinations and maintain testing including surveillance of virus levels in sewage.

They also advised mask-wearing and limiting the size of gatherings could be needed. There are currently no travel restrictions in place.

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From florist to fraudster, leaving a trail of destruction from North Cork, to Waterford, to Clare, to Wexford and through the midlands ... learn how mistress of re-invention, Catherine O'Brien, scammed her way around rural Ireland.

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