STRICT RULES around the way the new Covid-19 vaccine is administered could prevent tens of thousands of Ireland’s elderly and most vulnerable from receiving an early dose of the vaccine.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is expected to establish a precise set of regulations for the administration of those first batch of doses.
Under the rules, it is likely that staff with training on how to deal with anaphylactic shock will be required along with resuscitation equipment in the event of an adverse reaction.
There are also likely to be restrictions on the number of healthcare staff able to vaccinate along with the number of settings in which the jab can be given.
All of which, according to the Irish Mail on Sunday, could mean those elderly unable to leave their home miss out on the first roll-out of the Pfizer vaccine.
Joseph Musgrave, the CEO of Home and Community Care Ireland (HCCI) said: "My fear is that, as part of the first wave, it might be impractical and not feasible, logistically, to vaccinate home care clients."
It's estimated that there is somewhere in the region of 120,000 vulnerable individuals aged 80 or over, who are living in their own homes.
In the majority of cases, these individuals are disabled and unable to leave.
Though Musgrave has received assurances that care workers in residential settings would be among the first to receive vaccines, he remains unconvinced.
“We are talking about home care clients who are amongst the most vulnerable people in our society”’ he said.
“Many have been cocooning since March and have had very limited social contact. We know if we limit social contact for people with dementia, you’re taking away their human rights. That’s what’s happened.”
He also hit out at the health authorities over a lack of clear communication over such issues with the relevant parties involved.
“It’s a complicated problem to solve and I don’t see the thinking or the consultation going into how to solve it,’ he said.
He warned that the lack of communication could lead to issues like the failure to immunise informal carers hired by families to bolster official services.
These workers will likely fall between the cracks when it comes to the development of a vaccination database, so it is essential that the health services do more to collaborate with the care sector on solutions for issues like this.