Samoa’s 2019 measles outbreak peaked before Christmas.
There were 5,612 cases and 81 deaths out of a population of 200,874.
These deaths were avoidable but because of anti-vaccination scaremongering, almost 100 people died.
The government made vaccination mandatory and the outbreak has been contained. Over recent days a similar process, though not as lethal, played out in our hospitals.
This entirely predictable January crisis intensified yesterday when the Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation (INMO) recorded 760 patients on trolleys and called for non-emergency admissions and elective procedures to be deferred.
“Ireland’s beleaguered health service continues to break records in the worst possible way,” said INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha.
The excuse that this is all down to the flu simply doesn’t hold... we simply do not get the extra capacity to cope. This is entirely predictable.
Criticising the HSE is a national pastime. Attacking the health minister, whoever it is, is a well-established safety valve but little enough changes.
Our behaviour may be too slow to change too. One simple and cost effective change would be a wider commitment to the flu vaccination.
That would not resolve yesterday’s 760-patient deadlock but it would reduce it. Extra beds and extended community care systems are needed but so too is a new discipline around our responsibilities on simple vaccinations.