17 Jan 2022

Limerick minister: ‘Waiting to see how others get on with vaccine is cowardly’

Limerick minister: ‘Waiting to see how others get on with vaccine is cowardly’

Minister of State Patrick O'Donovan

PEOPLE don’t elect politicians to follow, they elect politicians to lead, said Minister for the OPW Patrick O’Donovan.

The first vaccines were administered in University Hospital Limerick last Monday and when his time comes Minister O’Donovan said he will have no concerns.

“I have no hesitation about getting the vaccine. Waiting to see how your neighbours get on is cowardly,” he said.

Minister O’Donovan continued: “If we are not to take this vaccine, if I'm to leave it to somebody else, to see how they get on, in that case nobody is going to get vaccinated and that really is cop-out politics.”

He said we have seen the development of a very strong pharmaceutical sector, which is making a massive contribution in Ireland and, “We have to have faith in an industry that has helped in no small way to eradicate things like tuberculosis, measles, polio and other diseases that have plagued generations”.

“And it behoves people in positions of leadership to support public health measures and that includes vaccination programmes,” said Minister O’Donovan, who touched on the online commentators.

“You have an awful lot of fake news permeating on social media in relation to vaccines of all sorts. These are the same people that permeate falsehoods in relation to the wearing of masks and in relation to the washing of hands and in some cases, if there is a pandemic at all.

“There are people online believing that there is no pandemic, that there are no people dying and they are spreading lies online so I believe that there is an obligation on people in leadership within the country to show leadership. You can't be in a position of leadership and expect those whom you are supposed to be providing that leadership to, to lead and for you to follow. If that's the case you shouldn't be in the position at all,” said Minister O’Donovan.

Has he any concerns about taking the vaccine?

“No. Once the European Medicines Agency have signed off on it and the Irish equivalent and the Food and Drug Administration in America, and the Centre for Disease Control and the main regulatory bodies across the world.

“What people are forgetting here, some people misunderstand, ‘Oh how has this vaccine been regulated so quickly?’ The reason these vaccines have been regulated so quickly is that every resource available in the world has been thrown at it to make sure there are no blockages, no regulatory issues, no administrative issues, no burdens placed by anybody other than making sure the science is right.”

Minister O’Donovan stresses the importance of the vast majority preparing to roll up their sleeve for the injection. 

“Unless we get a significant cohort of the population and a mass vaccine working, and people taking it in large numbers, whichever one of the five is available at a particular time, we'll never beat this disease and this disease will linger, and we will continue to be within the restrictions.

“If you look back over time, whether it was tuberculosis or polio, pharmaceuticals and the pharmaceutical sector have led our ability to counteract terrible diseases, whether that is in the discovery of penicillin or in the development of a vaccine for Covid, so waiting to see how someone else gets on and holding back, is not what's required in terms of leadership.”

Minister O’Donovan concludes: “What's required in terms of leadership is if they are in positions of responsibility and civic leadership, then they should be putting their hand up and say ‘I'll go first, I have no problem taking it’.”

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