DERRY JOURNAL Editorial: Vaccinations in Ireland a tale of two roll outs

It must be hard for everyone in the border counties in the south right now watching on as increasing numbers of people, and in many cases neighbours, friends and family, across in the north are called up to get vaccinated.

Saturday, 6th March 2021, 12:05 pm

It must be particularly difficult for older and vulnerable people, who have spent much of the past year shielding and adhering to the highest level of restrictions, and their loved ones.

Over recent days the dissimilarity between the vaccine roll-outs in both jurisdictions was made very clear in the contrasting statements made by An Taoiseach Micheál Martin and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson

On of the one hand, residents in the south face another spell of the highest restrictions, which include being limited to 5km from your home for nonessential travel, while the shutters remain down on all but essential businesses as the vaccination programme continues to roll out at a much slower pace. Though some schoolchildren will return to the classroom over the coming days, the sense of life being on hold for a long time yet must be taking its toll.

Vaccinations (file picture, PressEye) and the statue of the Celtic sea god Manannan MacLir in County Derry looking out over the River Foyle towards County Donegal (Derry Journal).

Meanwhile in Britain, a road map for the reopening in society has been outlined, with a specific set of plans for the north albeit with no dates announced this week.

In Britain, in a move some would call optimistic, people are starting to make plans for the summer. Festivals and holiday parks are taking bookings, businesses and even hospitality are preparing to reopen and more and more holiday deals are appearing in our inboxes. There is some hope of a return to a more familiar way of living in the not too distant future. And it is all down the vaccine roll out.

This paper and others have not been found wanting when it comes to criticising aspects of the British government and the NI Assemblys’ handling of COVID-19 pandemic. The number of deaths among people who have been diagnosed with the virus, particularly across the water, has been shocking. But credit where credit is due, the vaccine roll out has been staggering.

While comparisons with the south in this regard are difficult as the Irish government are following manufacturers’ guidance on second doses within weeks rather than months, it is very clear the EU member states’ collective strategy has resulted in a shortfall of vaccines.

Hopefully now, as more vaccines are approved and manufacturing gets on track that programme can be ramped up and that gap will narrow.

At the end of the day, we are one island, our lives, our families, our heritage and our economies are interconnected and Covid is no respecter of lines on a map.

It is in all our interests to make sure we are all protected so that we can protect each other and visit each other across this island and emerge into a better place together.