A worrying reluctance to take the Covid-19 vaccine among a sizeable minority of young people – and a conflict of official advice about summer travel from Government and the health experts – are compounding the challenges to defeat the virus.
ovid-19 vaccine hesitancy remains relatively high among 18 to 34-year-olds, although demand for a jab overall is growing, a new poll reveals today.
This news comes as the Government and the health experts’ advice on international travel are at serious variance – sending different messages to those hoping to go abroad this summer.
Chief medical officer Tony Holohan has strongly advised those not fully vaccinated to stay at home.
But Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said it is all right for unvaccinated people to travel, however, they will need a digital cert and they will need to get a PCR test before they return to the country.
A new survey shows the number of adults of all ages who say they intend to get vaccinated, or have already received one, has risen to 89pc. That’s according to the latest Ipsos MRBI tracker poll for the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA). But there continues to be a diehard group who will reject a vaccine.
In January, 7pc said they would refuse a vaccine and that has only fallen slightly to 6pc. During the same time, the number who are “unsure” has dropped significantly from 18pc to 4pc.
However, when broken down by age, the findings show 11pc of 18 to 24-year-olds are unsure and 5pc will refuse the offer.
Among 25 to 34-year-olds, 7pc are unsure and 13pc will choose not to be vaccinated.
Another 9pc of 35 to 44-year-olds said they will turn down a jab. When it comes to gender, 7pc of women and 5pc of men in all age groups say they will not get vaccinated.
It comes as registration for a vaccine for people aged 35 to 39 continues this week, beginning with 39-year-olds yesterday.
At the same time, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar was questioned about why Government advice to travel did not – like that of chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, tell all people not fully vaccinated to stay at home.
Mr Varadkar said it was “not the first or only time” that doctors’ advice and Government action diverged.
The Tánaiste said he understood the public health and scientific basis for Dr Holohan’s advice and he acknowledged that fully vaccinated people were less likely to be infected or spread the virus on return from holidays.
“But we think it would be unfair to say to families and to younger people, who haven’t had the opportunity to get vaccinated yet because we haven’t had the supplies, to say to them: you can’t travel abroad,” Mr Varadkar told Newstalk presenter Gavin Reilly.
Mr Varadkar said people could travel on the basis of the EU Covid certificate and be obliged to get a negative PCR test before they return to the country. He added that the Government favoured more widespread use of quicker and cheaper antigen testing – but for travel, PCR was the more reliable one.
On the vaccine hesitancy figures in younger age groups, Bernard Mallee, communications director for the IPHA said: “Overall Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy is very low, with just 4pc saying they have still to decide whether to get vaccinated for the disease.
“That is down by 14 points since January. There is a hard ‘no’ cohort but, again, at 6pc, it is very small, remaining relatively stable since the start of the year.
Meanwhile, another 288 people have tested positive for Covid-19, according to the latest figures released yesterday.
Fifteen people were in intensive care and 49 people were hospitalised.
Separately, countries in Europe are scrambling to curb a worrying spike in infections due to the spread of the more infectious Delta variant, first detected in India
Britain recorded 9,284 new cases of coronavirus yesterday and six new deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test.
Although lower than recent days, the number of new cases reflects an upward trend in recent weeks driven by the spread of the more infectious Delta variant.
The variant is reported to be behind Covid-19 resurge in the Lisbon area with over half the new cases reported to be the more infectious strain, preliminary data showed yesterday