Better promotion of the choice to register for a vaccine online or by phone is needed according to Age Action.
A HSE online portal for vaccine registrations opened on Thursday starting with those aged between 65 and 69. However people can also register using a free-call phone number.
Head of advocacy and communications at Age Action Celine Clarke said: “We’ve had some calls today from people concerned they don’t know how to go online. Other people said they will give it a go, but they don’t have an email so they’re looking for help too.”
Central Statistics Office data shows up to 50% of the over-65s experience digital exclusion. This can mean not having the skills or not having access. It also affects people with low literacy skills and some disabilities.
And Ms Clarke said this also covers people who do not have an email address.
“People may use the internet to read the newspaper or check RIP.ie but this does not mean they are doing business online or that they have an email [account],” she said.
A key issue, she said, is people may not feel comfortable giving their information to a neighbour or family member to assist with online registration.
In these cases, she recommended they contact the Covid-19 helpline and register direct with the HSE.
The portal requires people to enter their name, date of birth, gender, address, and PPS number. An email and mobile phone number is also sought and registration cannot go ahead without these.
If people cannot register online due to not having any of these identifiers, they can choose to register using the Covid-19 Helpline which is open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Saturday.
The number is: LoCall: 1850-241850 or from outside Ireland: 003531-2408787.
This age group is also potentially the only group who will receive the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine Vaxzevria.
This week the National Immunisation Advisory Committee recommended this vaccine be only given to over-60s in Ireland. However, they previously recommended that over-70s be preferentially given either of the Pfizer/BioNtech or Moderna vaccines.
Ms Clarke said: “People aged 60 to 69 are in limbo. They are ringing us about this also."
Some people, she said, asked if they should wait to register until next week when there might be more information available on vaccine choices.
The HSE published a video on their YouTube channel which goes through the steps needed to register.
It advises people to watch this first and gather the information needed.
And Ms Clarke described the video as “very helpful” but said she would like to see that helpline number shared more widely on radio, television and in newspapers
- Online portal: https://vaccine.hse.ie. Phone registration: LoCall: 1850-241850 or from outside Ireland: 003531-2408787