We had a great response to our request for questions to put to our friendly Five Star pharmacist, Dermot Smith, who operates the pharmacies in both Slane and Tullyallen and has the Five Star Pharmacy service online.


Below we feature the best questions including one ingenious one about a problem common to all patients trying to read a prescription themselves.


Traditionally Valentine’s day would be a money spinner for most pharmacies did that hold true this year
Emer Simpson via email;
Dermot is an old romantic at heart and doesn’t even blush as he says, ‘ While our bread and butter business is prescriptions and medicines, we do like to offer our customers a chance to shop local by stocking a selection of gifts for special occasions and while it is not a huge part of our business thankfully we do tend to get a turn from special occasions – Valentines day, Mothers day, Fathers day etc. I’m happy to report love is very much alive in meath and louth if our sales figures at the weekend are anything to go by – thanks to all our customers for their support.’
The Covid vaccination are there alternatives for people who may be allergic to what is in it, Are there oral options for those terrified of needles
Gerry Dardis  from Lobinstown
The many unknowns that still surround the virus framed Dermot’s response, ‘This is a tough question Gerry and its probably best to come at it from the angle that Covid 19 is such a new virus and threat to the world’s health.
‘While all the best scientific minds in the world are studying it currently the virus is one step ahead of us and is likely to be until we get a better understanding of the virus characteristics and behaviours.
‘Until we get that understanding it is probably unreasonable to expect us to create the perfect cure or treatment for COVID 19 at this stage. Where we are at now is that a number of vaccines have been produced to help lessen the likelihood of becoming seriously ill with COVID 19.
‘These vaccines are not perfect but in time they will be fine tuned and developed to allow for their easier more efficient widespread use. So in a nutshell yes we have vaccines, no they aren’t suitable for everyone currently but are safe and effective for the majority, and finally, advances will happen quickly and vaccines and treatments for COVID 19 will improve as time goes on.
‘The key thing to do now is to keep cases and levels as low as possible until medicine catches up with the virus’.
 Is it dangerous for someone to take a higher dose of medication than prescribed, I don’t mean an overdose but something like a person taking three antibiotics in a day when only two are prescribed
Robbie Purdue via email
The advice here is carefully does it, ‘Patients should always take the prescribed amount of their medication. In the case where an extra dose is taken inadvertently by a patient they should always check this with their pharmacist. They will then advise them on the best course of action depending on what the medication is and what it is for’.
Why is the vaccination process taking so long, can pharmacists administer it
Teresa Murphy from Duleek
Dermot says, ‘I was expecting a few Covid questions and that’s a good one,  I think a good place to start with answering this question is to look at the history of vaccines – it took over 20 years from start of research to get a working effective polio vaccine and nearly 10 years to get a working mass vaccine for influenza so what scientists have done in getting a mass vaccine for COVID 19 is really remarkable when you compare it to that.
‘The vaccine rollout will improve when supply comes online – but it is dependant on supply. Pharmacists will be vaccinating for COVID 19 – the exact timeline for this is uncertain but I would expect by late spring/early summer you will be able to get COVID 19 vaccines in pharmacies’.
And finally the one we’d all like an answer to, Why is doctor’s handwriting so hard to decipher, from Bernadette Wilson via Facebook
‘Great question Bernie ! The answer is  – I’m not really sure! Maybe it is because they are under pressure of time but whatever the reason it can make our job a little more difficult. Thankfully a lot of prescriptions are now issued to us via healthmail – a secure email system used by GPs and pharmacists and it is really helpful. Patients can contact their GP and request their prescription to be sent to the pharmacy of their choice – our healthmail is slane.pharmcy@healthmail.ie