2021 was “One of the greatest tests on our country, our health service, and ourselves” – Dr Mai Mannix

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Dr Mai Mannix, Director of the Department of Public Health Mid-West Photo: Shauna Kennedy

DR MAI Mannix, Director of Public Health Mid-West is urging people in the region to “be on guard” for themselves and for their community over the festive season.

Wishing everyone in the Mid West a happy Christmas and New Year, Dr Mannix promised that “2022 will be a different year, and a year where we move forward in a positive direction together”.

She said: This time last year, many believed the worst of Covid-19 had been behind us following the pandemic’s first and second wave. The third wave in January 2021, as we know, was extremely difficult for everyone and what ensued was one of the greatest tests on our country, our health service, and ourselves.

“My message is more to remind us all of how far we have come since that challenging period. We adapted well and led by example when society returned in spring. Parents, teachers, and children proved to be among the most resilient since the return to the classroom. Young people who missed out on the quality college and university experience for over a year continued to show leadership in protecting their families and loved ones in times of crisis. Our frontline workers, across all agencies and authorities, persevered in their pursuit to protect us all.”

Dr Mannix praised those who “rose to the occasion when called on to register and receive Covid vaccines”.

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“In Clare, 94 per cent of people aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated; over 95 per cent in Limerick in the same age cohort are fully vaccinated, and Tipperary is in the region of 96 per cent. Simply put, we are among the leaders in vaccine uptake in Europe and the world,” she revealed.

However, Dr Mannix warned that breakthrough infections among the fully vaccinated can still happen, and can cause serious illness and death among vulnerable patients.

“Booster doses will help prevent serious outcomes and protect ourselves and each other from the emerging threat of the Omicron variant.

“Personal circumstances, views and misinformation, are among the many factors why some have yet to be fully vaccinated. If you are unsure, speak to your local GP or a trusted healthcare professional, and read reliable and trusted sources, such as HSE website.

“And while many of us have the protection of full-vaccination and booster for this Christmas, we must still be mindful of our elderly, most vulnerable, and those with chronic diseases. We can mitigate the risk together by following straight forward measures; try to reduce social activity and your social contacts as much as possible in the coming days before meeting with loved ones for the Christmas break, avoid gatherings if you are feeling unwell or even have mild symptoms, isolate and get a PCR test if you have symptoms, wear a mask, keep a distance if possible and open a window if indoors,” Dr Mannix advised.

She concluded: “Additionally, if you know someone who is spending the festive season alone, for whatever reason, please reach out to them, be it over the phone, FaceTime, Zoom, etc. Solidarity, togetherness, and staying connected is so important for us all and especially for anyone experiencing loneliness or hardship at this time.

“Public Health Mid-West will continue doing everything it can to help protect you and your loved ones over Christmas and in the New Year. But we cannot do it without your help. Be on guard for you and your community.”