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Two positive COVID-19 cases emerged in Cahercalla before vaccine could take effect

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Residents of Cahercalla Community Hospital who contracted COVID-19 days prior to receiving the vaccine will not have to be administered a new series of jabs.

Staff and residents at Cahercalla are tested once a week for COVID-19, more than 20 cases of the virus have emerged at the facility this month prompting the Defence Forces to be deployed to assist with duties as several staff members were on sick leave.

In the most recent series of tests, 200 persons were swabbed with a positivity rate of one percent. Two residents were diagnosed with COVID-19 following these tests and The Clare Echo has learned that both individuals had received the vaccine less than 48 hours previously.

The HSE have stated it takes seven days after the second dose of the vaccine to work if you got the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine whereas it is fourteen days after the second dose for the Moderna vaccine “We do not know yet how long immunity will last. Clinical trials are ongoing to find this out,” a spokesperson outlined.

Chairman of the Cahercalla Board, Dr Michael Harty told The Clare Echo that manufactures of the vaccine recommend no vaccine be administered to a person within 28 days of them testing positive for COVID-19.

Both individuals that tested positive for the virus will have their second dose of the vaccine delayed, it is understood that they had tested negative last week. A maximum of four weeks can be left between the administering of the first and second dose of the vaccine, Dr Harty said and added that no adverse effects are expected for the cases.

Many positive cases that have emerged in Cahercalla were not showing symptoms, the Kilmihil GP detailed. “COVID-19 is so unpredictable, we’re never sure what is going to happen”.

Pressure on staffing levels is not as acute in Cahercalla this week, Dr Harty stated. Approximately 16 extra nursing staff had been deployed to Cahercalla due to the outbreak that became known in the middle of January. He acknowledged that pressure was easing due to “substantial assistance” from the HSE.

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly (FF) has confirmed that residents in nursing homes like Cahercalla that were unable to receive the vaccine due to being deemed positive COVID-19 cases will be prioritised.

“Our vaccination teams were unable to vaccinate some nursing homes residents and staff who had COVID-19 recently, or vaccinate those in some facilities where there were particularly large outbreaks. I would like to reassure those staff and residents that they will be prioritised and vaccinated as soon as possible, and in line with the guidelines drawn up by our National Immunisation Advisory Council,” the Wicklow TD commented.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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