Sage Advocacy has said that while the opening of the vaccination registration portal for aged 65 to 69 year olds has come as a relief for many older people, it is also aware of a “level of concern and anxiety” among some older people in relation to accessing Covid-19 vaccines.
The organisation, which supports and advocates for vulnerable adults, older people and healthcare patients, said it knows from its work that issues around supply and scheduling of vaccinations in some regions and updated guidance on the AstraZeneca vaccine has contributed to a level of anxiety among some older people.
The National Immunisation Advisory Committee has advised that those aged 70 and older should be offered an mRNA vaccine, such as Pfizer, while those aged 60 and older should be offered the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Sarah Lennon, Executive Director of Sage Advocacy said: “The HSE has said that people who are most at risk from COVID-19 are being vaccinated first and that everyone aged over 70 should have received both doses of a vaccine by the middle of May.
“But Sage Advocacy knows that in some instances supply issues have resulted in delays to vaccination schedules and we believe an efficient roll-out of the community vaccination programme is vital so that those who need it and consent to having a vaccine are protected against Covid-19.
“Older people have told us that they view a Covid-19 vaccine as a means of getting their lives back to some degree of normality, but there are also some older people who have questions or concerns about the different vaccines and have said that they would prefer to have a choice.
“We know that the objective of the vaccination programme is, in the first instance, to reduce mortality and morbidity. If a person is not declining to have a vaccine, but wants more information or to delay taking the vaccine, then it would be extremely unfair if they were to be penalised. Latest statistics show that in the seven days up to April 10 3.6 per cent of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Ireland were in the 65-74 age range.”
From Thursday 15 April registration for a Covid-19 vaccine is available on a HSE online portal for people aged 65 to 69.
Ms Lennon said it is vital that the registration process is accessible to everyone.
“We welcome the fact that if anyone aged 65 to 69 is unable to register online at (Register to get a COVID-19 vaccine (hse.ie) they can call the Covid-19 helpline on 1850 24 1850 to register by phone and also if anyone is deaf or hard of hearing they can text HSELive on 086 1800 661 to register for the vaccination,’’ Ms Lennon added.