Denis Naughten has questioned why adults in constant contact with vulnerable children with underlying medical conditions, who are at high risk of severe illness or death, have been excluded from the decision to prioritise them as part of the Covid vaccination programme.
“If people over the age of 15 with serious underlying medical conditions are being prioritised based on medical evidence, surely that same advice would also apply to vulnerable children? And if that is the case why are they being ignored by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) by being excluded in tonight’s announcement on the revised vaccination strategy?” Denis Naughten asked.
“I accept these children cannot be vaccinated themselves because we have yet to receive vaccine trial evidence on children, but makes it even more important to vaccinate those adults who come in daily contact with them in order to minimise the risk of picking up Covid-19.
“Data coming from Israel has shown that the Pfizer vaccine is very effective at reducing transmission of the virus and this would clearly justify administering the vaccine to family carers of medically vulnerable children.
“Those under 16-years-old are to be last in the queue when it comes to vaccination for Covid-19, which means we must act now to protect our vulnerable children.
“Another vulnerable cohort are full-time family carers. If vaccination priority is based on the risk of death, followed by hospitalisation, then why are carers excluded? If carers get sick, then many older people will be forced into hospital or long-term care, putting further pressure on our health system.
“In the UK family carers have been prioritised as being a group at higher risk because ‘those who are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill, should also be offered vaccination alongside these groups’.
“Across the EU, US, UK and many other countries vaccinating family carers is seen as international best practice, yet family carers are still being ignored here in Ireland and it seems that NIAC has failed to give any advice to Government on a group of people who are so vital to the sustainability of our health service,” concluded Denis Naughten.