The HSE Public Health Midlands is advising against large social gatherings and is urging people to continue to adhere to public health guidelines in the wake of evidence that teenagers or young people may have become infected intentionally.
The HSE issued the advice on the back of incidence which it claims that young people are trying to catch the virus to get the Covid-19 Digital Crt.
Dr Douglas Hamilton, Specialist in Public Health Medicine at the Department of Public Health in the Midlands, issued the advise.
“As the number of cases of the Delta variant of Covid-19 continues to increase, we are advising people to avoid large social gatherings.
“It is also important that people stick to public health guidelines to minimise the transmission of the virus. It also has come to our attention that recently a number of teenagers and young adults may have acquired Covid-19 intentionally at social events. The objective may have been to acquire Covid-19 in order to quickly qualify for a Covid Digital Certificate,” he said.
The HSE warns that any such practice is extremely risky and dangerous, because:
1. The currently circulating Delta variant has higher morbidity and mortality rates, also for the young.
2. With this comes higher rates of “long Covid”, potentially resulting in lifelong cardiac, respiratory, cerebral or renal disease.
3. It also carries a high risk of onwards spread to elderly and other vulnerable people, who may not have mounted as good an immune response to vaccination as younger and fully fit people, putting them at risk of serious disease.
“We strongly advise against any such practice,” says Dr Hamilton. “Moreover, vaccination provides better immunity than infection. We therefore advise that young people (18 to 24 years old) register as soon as possible to get vaccinated,” he said.
There are three options for this:
a) On the vaccination portal (https://vaccine.hse.ie/#register) with a Personal Public Service (PPS) number, Eircode, a mobile phone number and an email address.
b) People who don’t have a PPS number, or prefer to use the phone, can call HSELive on 1800 700 700 to register. Everyone who registers online or by phone will be offered an mRNA vaccine - either the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine - when it is available. People waiting for their first vaccination appointment will also have a choice to opt in or out of getting the AstraZeneca vaccine if it is available earlier than an mRNA vaccine.
c) Book a Janssen vaccine appointment (single dose) at a participating pharmacy www2.hse.ie/Apps/ Services/
The latest Health Protection Surveillance Centre figures, up to July 22, show that more than a quarter of new infections, 3,767, in Ireland are among the 19-24 age group.
Just over 20% of new infections, 2,833, are among the 25-34 age while almost 20% of new infections, 2,400 were found among the 13-18 age group.
These figures cover the two weeks up to July 22.
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