The chief executive of the HSE has apologised to families of high-risk children still awaiting a Covid-19 vaccine appointment, saying delays “should not have happened”.
Paul Reid said there were scheduling problems at a number of large vaccination centres around the country, with appointments offered for not-at-risk children first, according to the Irish Examiner.
This was being fixed throughout yesterday and today, he said. Up to this afternoon, Mr Reid said there were about 200 high-risk children still waiting on appointment dates, and he expected this to be finalised shortly.
“I am extremely sorry that some of the vulnerable children didn’t get their vaccine in the appropriate time,” he told a press briefing.
“We are sorry that those children didn’t get their appointments in the proper time."
About 10,000 children were registered by their parents or guardians as high-risk on the HSE booking system in late December, on the understanding they would be prioritised for vaccination.
However, many parents described frustration as their children faced a return to school this week without the protection of a vaccine, with infection levels at record levels around the country.
A number told Breakingnews.ie they feared their vulnerable children had become “lost in a sea of other children” registered on the HSE’s online portal after receiving no vaccination appointment for more than a week.
The HSE has opened registration to all children aged 5-11, with approximately 70,000 children in this cohort now registered for a vaccine. The age group is estimated to include about 480,000 children.
So far, 6,500 children of this age have been vaccinated, mainly in mass vaccination centres, but a small number of severely ill children have received the vaccine in hospitals.
Meanwhile, the booster campaign has slowed down compared to the rush for shots before Christmas, Mr Reid said, adding that health officials are concerned that people are "dropping off".
He urged people to come forward as all age groups are now eligible.
Over 2.27 million booster doses or additional doses for immunocompromised people have been administered, meaning 62 per cent of the eligible population has received a booster.
Within that number, 91 per cent of people aged over 70 are now boosted and 85 per cent of people in their 60s. However, among younger people, the number is much lower with just 34 per cent of people aged 30 to 39 and younger people who got the Janssen vaccine boosted.