Donegal community leads vaccination efforts

Photo: Dr Victoria Bradley in Arranmore’s shop with Marina Ball © Donegal Daily

 

No one is safe until we are all safe. It’s the message one Donegal community has taken to its heart, inspiring thousands of people nationwide to fundraise in support of UNICEF’s global COVID-19 vacination programme.

Islanders on Arranmore decided to act even as South Asia continues to battle a second deadly wave of infection. 

After local GP Dr Victoria Bradley organised for the speedy vaccination of half the residents of the tiny community, it sparked conversations about their good fortune to live in a country with a public health system that organised for them to be protected, and for free.

Meanwile, we are all threatened by the rise of variants and surges in other territories even as things begin to return to normality.

UNICEF’s Get a Vaccine Give a Vaccine campaign offers people an opportunity to come together in support of vaccine equity, protecting others while also ultimately protecting themselves.

Vaccinating the World

UNICEF is leading the largest-ever vaccine procurement and supply operation on behalf of the COVAX Facility, a global effort led by ACT-A partners Gavi, WHO and CEPI to aid equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, targeting 92 low and middle-income countries. 

UNICEF was asked to come on board because of its expertise in procuring half the world’s vaccines for children under 5 every year. 

COVAX has already delivered 62 million doses to 124 countries (May 14 figs), since March. 

Taking part is an act of solidarity

When RTÉ’s North West Correspondent Eileen Magnier took the ferry to Arranmore, Co. Donegal last weekend to talk to islanders about their work raising funds for UNICEF’s Get a Vaccine Give a Vaccine campaign, little did she know she was about to give the effort to vaccinate the world a major boost.

Beautiful Arranmore on a sunny May Sunday © Elaine Barney Boyle

Her report, carried on the main evening news on RTÉ 1 and TG4 and online, sparked a surge of donations.

Featuring Elaine Barney Boyle, the local woman who is leading the community’s fundraising, this heart-warming story inspired thousands up and down the country as TV viewers learned of the island’s efforts to vaccinate vulnerable people all over the World.

Media interest

It’s been a busy week in newsrooms across the county also.

The Donegal Democrat covers the story

The Donegal Daily got behind the initiative, writing that Arranmore’s residents were inspiring massive levels of goodwill.

And Irish language newspaper Tuairisc gave the fascinating background to the initiative here.

Local station Highland Radio also got involved, taking the opportunity to report on the good news.

Support pours in

Community fundraiser Elaine Barney Boyle has been keeping UNICEF updated with all the developments, as and when they happen, sharing photographs of the cards and donations she is being sent from all over.

Just some of the photographs Elaine Barney Boyle has shared of the letters, cards and donations she has received.

Who is it helping?

The text RTÉ presenter Ryan Tubridy read out on his show (May 14) gave a sense of the support we’re receiving: ‘Irish people are so generous, even in our own times of need. Sile says “I’m getting my Pfizer vaccine today, my husband got his on Tuesday. We’re grateful. We donated to UNICEF’s Get a Vaccine Give a Vaccine – they’re trying to vaccinate in countries not as fortunate as ours. Text VACCINE to 50300 to give €4 or you can donate online”, says Sile. That’s very generous.’

UNICEF is taking queries from people working in doctor’s surgeries, immunisation hubs, parish newsletters, local radio stations, community groups and firms nationwide. This inspiring community has started something that is building to a place of lasting impact.

Get involved. Stand with your global family. When you have received your free vaccine, pay it forward by funding the vaccination of somebody else. It’s the feel good move of the year!

To see more joyous images of people being vaccinated from all over the World, check out this photo essay.

Click here to Give a Vaccine Get a Vaccine.