Stephen Donnelly warns parents to ignore 'dangerous' social media advice on vaccines

Stephen Donnelly warns parents to ignore 'dangerous' social media advice on vaccines

Noreen O'Leary, vaccination centre co-ordinator, with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, during the minister's visit to Cork City Hall vaccination centre. Picture: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has warned parents to be wary of “stupid and dangerous stuff" being written about vaccines on social media.

Mr Donnelly also urged people who need to find out about vaccines to get it from legitimate sources, such as the HSE.

He was speaking after visiting the Cork City Hall vaccination centre, where up to 130,000 people were expected to have been vaccinated to date.

Mr Donnelly also promised parents that schools would reopen as planned in September.

“Schools will open, colleges will open. There's no question about that,” he said.

He said he wanted to get a vaccination programme for 12- to 15-year-olds up and running “as quickly as possible”.

“We got this really useful advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) on Monday, saying we can vaccinate 12- to 15-year-olds,” he said.

“We're planning that with the HSE. I want to get that up and running as quickly as possible.”

He added: “There's already a lot of parents, and a lot of children, who are looking forward to getting vaccinated.

There's a lot more parents who've got very legitimate, very reasonable questions.

“I want to make sure that we have all of the expert advice available online.”

Mr Donnelly advised parents to “ignore social media”.

He said teenagers and their parents are being subjected to “misinformation, stupid stuff, and some dangerous stuff”.

Parents are now going to be targeted by the anti-vax groups, so I'd say to parents, ignore social media, go to verified data sources, go to the HSE.”

Of the current progress of the vaccination programme, he said: “The programme is incredible.

“By the end of the day, they will have vaccinated nearly 130,000 people, that's about 3% of the entire adult population.

“The positivity is amazing, the work the teams are doing is amazing.

'War effort'

“This really is an all-island effort, it was described inside to me as a war effort.

“We have the HSE, the defence forces, volunteers inside from St John's ambulance, nursing students, medical students, people who have come out of retirement and private sector companies helping wherever they can.”

And he added: “It's amazing to see when Ireland works together what can be achieved.

I think the data would back it up that Ireland has, without a doubt, one of the most successful vaccine programmes anywhere in the world.” 

The Irish Examiner was told this claim is based on – among other things – Ireland having the highest vaccine uptake among a large variety of age cohorts and the fact the country has exceeded EU targets in advance of other EU countries.

Mr Donnelly said: “It's something we should be immensely proud of.”

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