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“Not all children are being treated equally”

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Killarney mother urges government to implement vaccine for all children

A Killarney mother says not all children are being treated equally after discovering that the potentially life-saving meningitis B vaccine is only available to some children.

Danielle Kissane from Park Road, who is mom to Jack (6) and Kate, who is almost 3, now faces a cost of up to €700 to vaccinate both her children – but says it’s a price she’s willing to pay.
Last week Danielle discovered that a vaccination against meningitis B has been routinely offered free since October 2016 but that children born before this will not receive the B vaccine. Last Thursday she brought the issue to the attention of the nation on the Joe Duffy show.
And although the vaccine can cost €115 to €150 per injection with two required, costing parents up to €300 or more per child – she’s urging parents to pay it.
She has also raised the issue with TD John Brassil, spokesperson on Primary Care Community and Health Services, who says he will raise it in the Dáil next week.
However, Danielle isn’t willing to wait and take the chance as she says there have been 11 cases of meningitis notified to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre since the last week of December - of which three have already died.
And she says that Simon Harris has rejected calls for the government to provide a free meningitis vaccine to all children claiming it went against the advice of clinicians.
“I would strongly urge any parent with children born before October 1, 2016 and that are under the age of 18 to please vaccinate your children - even if they have to pay for it,” Danielle told the Killarney Advertiser.
“You can’t take the chance. The children of this country are being discriminated against based on their date of birth, which to me makes no sense on any level and is actually putting children’s lives at risk.”
Armed with her information she got in touch with Fianna Fail TD John Brassil who is the spokesperson on Primary Care Community and Health Services.
“John was absolutely appalled on hearing this information and immediately set to work on his own investigations. I spoke on the Joe Duffy show on Thursday to highlight the issue and by that evening John Brassil was speaking about it on Drivetime. John will also be raising it in the Dáil next week when it returns, where he will be calling for full vaccinations.”

She added that it is not just young children affected – the disease affects all ages and is quite prevalent in college students.
“The bottom line here is that there should be a law put in place that if a vaccine schedule changes there should be catch up vaccines put in place for all children who did not receive the vaccine regardless of their date of birth.”

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Lissi’s love of nature nets prize

After a successful launch year in the Isle of Man in 2020, ‘The Young Nature Blogger 2021’ went international as Kerry Biosphere and Dublin Bay Biosphere joined the competition. Open to anyone under 21, entrants were asked to write up to 500 words about their favourite experience or place in nature. Each Biosphere participating awarded […]

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After a successful launch year in the Isle of Man in 2020, ‘The Young Nature Blogger 2021’ went international as Kerry Biosphere and Dublin Bay Biosphere joined the competition.

Open to anyone under 21, entrants were asked to write up to 500 words about their favourite experience or place in nature.

Each Biosphere participating awarded local prizes with the top entry from each being submitted to the international competition between the three.

This week the two judges for the international element Author Dara McAnulty and Professor Martin Price, Chair of the UK Man and the Biosphere Committee, have unanimously chosen ‘The Otter’ by Lissi Nickelsen (Kerry) as winner of the inter-Biosphere Young Nature Blogger 2021.

“I absolutely love the observational detail in this piece,” Dara McAnulty, author of ‘Diary of a Young Naturalist’ and the youngest ever winner of The Wainright Prize for nature writing said:

“You can really feel that breathless excitement and tension of seeing an otter. The drawing shows how multimedia can be used to great effect in a blog.”

Professor Martin Price added that it “is a beautifully written blog about a very special encounter”.

“I really get the feeling of what Lissi observed so carefully, and her joy about spending time with an otter! And the drawing is wonderful too!”

Lissi will receive a young naturalist writing set from Dara McNulty, a framed otter picture from Wildlife photographer Vincent Hyland, Wild Derrynane, and a family kayak trip in the Kerry Biosphere.

The winning entry can be read on the Kerry Biosphere website www.kerrybiosphere.ie/news.

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The only certainty is uncertainty

By Michael O’Connor    “History is just one damn thing after another” – Arnold Toynbee Late last week, the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant in South Africa sent shockwaves worldwide, upending what had been a reasonably quiet week for the stock market. On Friday last, a steep sell-off left the S&P 500 and the […]

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By Michael O’Connor   

“History is just one damn thing after another” – Arnold Toynbee

Late last week, the emergence of a new COVID-19 variant in South Africa sent shockwaves worldwide, upending what had been a reasonably quiet week for the stock market. On Friday last, a steep sell-off left the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq down 2.2% and 3.5%, respectively.

This 147th twist in the pandemic tale got me thinking about how much we think we know when really, we know nothing at all.

At the start of the year nobody would have predicted that 2020 would have played out the way it did. Very few would have predicted that 2021, with promising vaccines and a return to normality would have represented so little change, but here we are.

Everyone loves to pretend like they fully understand what this all means and what will happen next. I get it; who doesn’t love the warm cozy allure of certainty. We all want to exist in a world where we know what lies around the corner.

History is a perpetual stream of mistaken opinions and unpredictable outcomes, but the predictions won’t stop. People will cast their views with deluded certainty about what to expect next by extrapolating the current conditions out into the future, but the current conditions aren’t a constant, and the game is always changing.

Unfortunately, the reality is, nobody knows what’s next, and the sooner you can discard any naive sense of conviction, the easier it will be in both life and investing. While this statement may seem morbid on the surface, loosening our grip on our need for certainty can be liberating.

Remember, while it is important to have expectations and predictions, predictions are not fact, and you will be wrong. Not always, but you will be wrong, so try not to be overly tethered to your current version of the truth.

Lean into the uncertainty

Accepting that nothing is certain can often be cast as an impotent statement in a world obsessed with knowing all the answers.

In an industry where uncertainty is the ultimate enemy, telling investors to submit to it is often met with disdain, but accepting the inevitability of uncertainty is so important if you want to avoid going stir crazy as you try and hold for the long term.

Of course, discarding uncertainty is easier said than done. Worrying about factors beyond our control is an inherent part of the human condition. However, simply being aware that the game is not predictable and nobody truly knows the final outcome may help you reduce your craving for certainty.

My advice

Stop reaching for perfection in a world of constant uncertainty. Stop obsessing about making the right decision one hundred percent of the time. Even the best investors in history have had their fair share of howlers. Ultimately you just need to be right more often than you are wrong.

The solution

Create an investment portfolio centred around what you believe to be the most probable outcome based on available information and incorporate enough diversification to function as a buffer.

In a world where anything is possible, all you can do is focus on what is most probable, allow for a margin of error to support you when your assumed outcomes don’t play out and simply let go of the rest.

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