Vaccine allocation plan ignores protection of vulnerable children – Naughten

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Galway Daily news Galway TD calls for retired healthcare staff to be used in vaccine rollout

The government’s provisional strategy for the order in which people will receive a vaccine for COVID-19 doesn’t take vulnerable children into account a Galway TD has said.

Galway Roscommon TD Denis Naughten has questioned why adults who are in constant contact with vulnerable children are not part of the early stages of the rollout of any COVID-19 vaccine.

The government this week published a provision Vaccine Allocation Strategy, which lays out the order in which different groups in the population will be prioritised for vaccination based on age, health, and essential employment.

Top of the list are people aged 65 and over who are in long-term residential care facilities, followed by frontline healthcare workers, and people over the age of 70 in the general population, and on down.

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“If vulnerable older people 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 not included in the initial phases of the vaccination strategy?” Denis Naughten asked

“I accept these children cannot be vaccinated themselves because we have yet to receive vaccine trial evidence on children.”

The Independent TD added “But that would make 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.”

The allocation list was drawn up based on ethical principles and epidemiological concerns the department of health stated, taking into account what we know about the characteristics of COVID-19, its modes of transmission, and the most vulnerable groups.

However the government also stated that the allocation strategy will be adapted as more data comes in, and different groups and unions representing workers in different sectors have been lobbying for priority access.

The provisional order for vaccine distribution approved by the Cabinet on this week is:

1 People aged 65 years and older who are residents of long-term care facilities (likely to include all staff and residents on site)
2 Frontline healthcare workers
3 People aged 70 and older
4 Other healthcare workers not in direct patient contact
5 People aged 65-69
6 Key workers
7 People aged 18-64 with certain medical conditions
8 Residents of long-term care facilities aged 18-64
9 People aged 18-64 living or working in crowded settings
10 Key workers in essential jobs who cannot avoid a high risk of exposure
11 People working in education sector
12 People aged 55-64
13 Other workers in occupations important to the functioning of society
14 Other people aged 18-54
15 People aged under 18 and pregnant women