Parents voice frustrations over delays for Covid-19 vaccinations for high-risk children

Parents voice frustrations over delays for Covid-19 vaccinations for high-risk children

Parents who registered high-risk children for a Covid-19 vaccination last week have spoken of their frustration at delays in issuing appointment dates.

This comes as the booking portal expanded on Monday to other children aged five to 11, with many receiving appointments within hours of registering.

High-risk children include those with an illness or disability which makes them vulnerable to Covid and children living with someone who has complex medical needs or is immunocompromised.

There are about 480,000 in this age group altogether, but there is no single list of high-risk children as this includes a wide range of illnesses and disabilities, as well as siblings, offspring and any child living with a vulnerable person.

In Cork, Julie Sweeney registered on December 27, expecting a vaccination date for her seven-year-old son in the city. He has a rare genetic condition, receiving treatment through Cork University Hospital and CHI Crumlin.

One week later, I still haven’t received an appointment, but have watched with increasing frustration reports online of families with non-high-risk status registering their children on Monday and receiving instant appointments for their children. 

“It is very frustrating,” she said.

She said she was told by the HSE Helpline to contact her GP, even though GPs are not vaccinating this age group.

A spokeswoman for HSE Cork/Kerry said the North Main Street children’s vaccination centre opens on Thursday and will give vaccinations “in accordance with the prioritisation criteria.” 

Ava, 6, has intellectual and physical disabilities and was placed on an early vaccination list before Christmas by hospital consultants. She is still waiting for a date.

In Kildare, Samantha Kenny’s daughter Ava, 6, who has intellectual and physical disabilities, was placed on an early vaccination list before Christmas by hospital consultants. She also registered on the portal.

“She is still waiting for a date. I rang the helpline three times and they ‘escalated’ it for me about three or four days ago,” she said.

Ava’s brother is also on the high-risk list. 

“We don’t even have a date. How can I send her brother to school now,” she said. “I will have to keep them home with even less support than I received in 2020 because they will not be safe.” 

Stephanie (Syd) Dealz is also still waiting on a date for her five-year-old son’s vaccination in Co Meath. In this case, she has an immunosuppressive condition.

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